25 February 2019 - 26 February 2019
Bangkok, Thailand

Measuring population ageing: Bridging research and policy

IIASA, together with the United Nations Population Division and Chulalongkorn University is organizing an international expert meeting with a focus on measuring population ageing.

Senior woman smiling © Geargodz | Dreamstime.com

Senior woman smiling © Geargodz | Dreamstime.com

Traditionally, the United Nations and most researchers have used measures and indicators that are mostly or entirely based on people’s chronological ages. This approach provides a simple, clear and easily replicable way to compute various indicators of ageing. Over the last decade, a new approach to thinking about people’s age has been developed. This approach is multidimensional and recognizes that the health status, type and level of activity, productivity, and other socio-economic characteristics of people have changed significantly.  These changes suggest the need to reconsider concepts of measuring ageing and old age. These considerations have led to the development of alternative concepts and measures of ageing, which provide a different picture of past, present and expected future dynamics/dimensions of population ageing. 

The various approaches to understanding and measuring ageing have important implications for the design and implementation of national development policies and programs, and for the follow-up and review of internationally agreed development goals that are related to or are affected by population ageing. Specifically, the different ways of measuring ageing affect the assessments of the evolution of the number of older persons, their living conditions, their contributions to the societies where they live and their needs for social protection. They have significant implications for labour markets, life-long education and health, and the interactions and mutual support of older persons with the younger generations.

Recognizing the diverse stages and characteristics of ageing in various regions of the world, as well as the recent developments and innovations in its measurement, the Population Division of the Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA) of the United Nations, the International Institute for Applied System Analysis (IIASA), and Chulalongkorn University, in collaboration with the Social Development Division of the Economic Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), are organizing an international expert group meeting on “Measuring Population Ageing: Bridging Research and Policy”, to be held in Bangkok, Thailand, from 25 to 26 February 2019.

This expert meeting will seek to take stock of different concepts and methodologies, to assess their scope and limitations to support policy design, implementation and monitoring at the national, regional and global levels, including monitoring and review of ageing related Sustainable Development Goals. Experts from governmental and international organizations, from research institutions as well as civil society organizations will be invited to discuss the applicability of various measures of ageing in different contexts.    

Event information:

Title: Expert Group Meeting: “Measuring Population Ageing: Bridging Research and Policy”

Date: 25-26 February 2019

Location: Bangkok, Thailand

Fees: There are no participation fees, but the participants are expected to arrange and cover their own travel and accommodation expenses.

Registration: Registration is closed.

Contact information: Stefanie Andruchowitz () and Karoline Schmid ()

Conference organizers:

  • Population Division of the Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UNDESA) of the United Nations
  • World Population Program, International Institute for Applied System Analysis (IIASA)
  • College of Population Studies, Chulalongkorn University (CHULA)
  • in collaboration with the Social Development Division of the Economic Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP)


This meeting is partly funded through the European Research Council under the European Union's Seventh Framework Programme (FP7/2007-2013) under grant agreement No 323947. Project Name: Reassessing Aging from a Population Perspective, Re-Ageing. The meeting is also partly funded by the Population Division of the United Nations.


Session 1: Different measures of ageing (Session multimedia)

Chair: Karoline Schmid, DESA 


1. Presentation: New measures of population ageing (30 min.)
Sergei Scherbov, IIASA

2. Presentation: Alpha-ages based on constant vs. varying characteristics (15 min.)
Zhen Zhang, Fudan University

3. Presentation: Additional measurement concepts of ageing (15 min.)
Ritu Sadana, WHO 

Session 2: Ageing in the global development agenda (Session multimedia)

Chair: Sabine Henning, ESCAP


1. Presentation: Conceptual considerations for measuring ageing in the context of MIPAA and Agenda 2030 (15 min.)
Amal Abou Rafeh, Division for Inclusive Social Development/DESA

2. Presentation: The Titchfield City Group on Ageing (15 min.)
Storey Angele, Office of National Statistics, United Kingdom; Titchfield City Group on Ageing
3. Presentation: Leaving no one behind – Measurement Issues (15 min.)
Patricia Conboy, HelpAge International

4. Presentation: The Interregional Approach of Measuring Population Second Session on Aging in the Global Development Agenda (15 min.)
Keisuke Nakashima, Kobe City University of Foreign Studies

Session 3: Using different measures of ageing: Country case studies (Session multimedia)

Chair: Sergei Scherbov, IIASA


1. Presentation: Ageing in Thailand (15 min.)
Vipan Prachuabmoh, College of Population Studies, Chulalongkorn University

2. Presentation: Dynamically adjusted pension age. Coping with age inflation by lifetime indexing in selected Scandinavian and continental EU countries (15 min.)
Bernd Marin, European Bureau for Policy Consulting and Social Research

3. Presentation:  Ageing in Malaysia (15 min.)
Tengku Aizan Hamid, Universiti Putra

4. Presentation: Ageing in Latin America: heterogeneous timings and implications (15 min.)
Silvia Elena Giorguli Saucedo, El Colegio de México

Session 4:  Ageing and the media (Session multimedia)

Moderator: Bernd Marin, European Bureau for Policy Consulting and Social Research


Panel discussion:
- Simon Cox, The Economist
- Elizabeth Isele, The Global Institute for Experienced Entrepreneurship

- Steven Petrow, The Washington Post
- Paola Scommegna, Population Reference Bureau

Session 5: Case studies: SDG3 – Good health and well-being (Session multimedia)

Chair: Sorapop Kiatpongsan, College of Population Studies, Chulalongkorn University


1. Presentation: Rural-urban health disparities among older adults in South Africa (15 min.)
Karl Peltzer, Ton Duc Thang University & North-West University

2. Presentation: Health and dependency (15 min.)
Carol Jagger, Newcastle University

3. Presentation: Older people’s health and care needs in the Middle East: policy and practice perspectives within changing population (15 min.)

Shereen Hussein, University of Kent

Session 6: Case studies: SDG8 – Decent work and economic growth (Session multimedia)

Chair: Sandrine A. Koissy-Kpein, DESA


1. Presentation: Ageing and economic growth: Measures, effects and policies (15 min.)
Jesus Crespo Cuaresma, Vienna University of Economics and Business & IIASA

2. Presentation: Untapped work capacity among old persons and their potential contributions to the "Silver Dividend" in Japan (15 min.)
Naohiro Ogawa, University of Tokyo

3. Presentation: Myths of an ageing society (15 minutes)
Andrew Scott, London Business School

4. Presentation: Quantifying economic dependency (15 min.)
Alexia Fürnkranz-Prskawetz, Vienna Institute of Demography & IIASA

Session 7: Case studies: SDG1: Reduce poverty and increase social protection for older persons (Session multimedia)

Chair: Wiraporn Pothisiri, College of Population Studies, Chulalongkorn University


1. Presentation: Social protection for older persons in Fiji (15 min.)
Dilitina M. Baleinabuli, Ministry of Women, Children and Poverty Alleviation, Suva

2. Presentation: Understanding patterns and dynamics of later life poverty in urban slum settings, Kenya (15 min.)
Razak Gyasi, African Population Health and Research Center (APHRC)

3. Presentation: Population ageing and the need for social protection in Asia and the Pacific (15 min.)
Vanessa Steinmayer, UN ESCAP

4. Presentation: Expanding financial protection and care services in the developing world: Status and challenges (15 min.)
Philip O’Keefe, World Bank, East Asia and Pacific Region

Session 8: Recommendations – evidence-based policies on ageing or Ageing and public policy (Session multimedia)

Moderator: Landis MacKellar, Population Council


1. Presentation: New measures of ageing and policy implications (15 min.)
Stuart Gietel-Basten, Hong Kong University of Science and Technology

2. Panel discussion:
- Warren Sanderson, IIASA
- Wolfgang Lutz, IIASA
- Plenee Grace J. Castillo, Philippine Statistics Authority
- Selash Pasali, UN Economic Commission for Africa 

Supporting Publications

Ghislandi S, Sanderson W, & Scherbov S (2018). A Simple Measure of Human Development: the Human Life Indicator. Population and Development Review DOI:10.1111/padr.12205. (In Press)

Scherbov S, Andruchowitz S, & Sanderson W (2018). Aging Demographic Data Sheet 2018. International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis  

Sanderson W, Scherbov S, & Gerland P (2017). Probabilistic Population Aging. PLoS ONE 12 (6): e0179171. DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0179171.


Scherbov S, Sanderson W, & Gietel-Basten S (2016). Better way to measure ageing in East Asia that takes life expectancy into account. Australasian Journal on Ageing 35 (2): 139-142. DOI:10.1111/ajag.12267.

Sanderson WC & Scherbov S (2013). The characteristics approach to the measurement of population aging. Population and Development Review 39 (4): 673-685. DOI:10.1111/j.1728-4457.2013.00633.x


Sanderson WC & Scherbov S (2010). Remeasuring aging. Science 329 (5997): 1287-1288. DOI:10.1126/science.1193647.

Sanderson WC & Scherbov S (2008). Rethinking age and aging. Population Bulletin 63 (4): 1-16.

Sanderson WC & Scherbov S (2005). Average remaining lifetimes can increase as human populations age. Nature 435 (7043): 811-813. DOI:10.1038/nature03593.

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Last edited: 29 March 2019


Sergei Scherbov

Guest Emeritus Research Scholar Social Cohesion, Health, and Wellbeing Research Group - Population and Just Societies Program

Meeting Agenda

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IIASA Project

Reassessing Ageing from a Population Perspective (Re-Ageing)


Aging Demographic Data Sheet

policy brief

Analyzing Population Aging from a New Perspective

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