26 November 2019

Science into public policy: UN and UK use IIASA research on population aging

IIASA’s research on population aging is increasingly being accepted and used. It brings 21st century tools to the study of 21st century population aging.

© Diego Vito Cervo / Dreamstime.com

© Diego Vito Cervo / Dreamstime.com

For many years, researchers at IIASA, under the leadership of Warren Sanderson and Sergei Scherbov, have shown that traditional measures of age and aging do not capture the changing characteristics and capabilities of people. Older people today are generally fitter and healthier than ever before and live much longer. Sanderson and Scherbov have provided additional measures that take longevity, among other characteristics of people, into account. The European Commission funded a 5-year project dedicated to those measures - the Reassessing Aging from a Population Perspective (ReAging) project which was led by IIASA World Population Program Deputy Director Sergei Scherbov.

A complete description of the new measures of population aging developed at IIASA appears in a new book by Sanderson and Scherbov titled "Prospective Longevity: A New Vision of Population Aging" that will be published on 29 November 2019 by Harvard University Press.

UN uses IIASA research to assess history and likely future of population aging

Two recent UN reports, World Population Ageing 2019: Highlights and Profiles of Ageing 2019 use new measures of population aging developed at IIASA. These measures provide policy makers all over the world with a clearer understanding of how population aging has occurred in their countries in the past and how it is likely to evolve in the future. Through the UN, IIASA measures of population aging are now easily available for virtually all countries of the world.  The inclusion of a IIASA-developed measure of population aging is a milestone that reflects a growing recognition that traditional measures no longer reflect the changing face of aging around the world.

UK uses IIASA research to assess its prospects for aging and the relationship between measures of population aging and health

A recent report by the UK’s Office of National Statistics entitled Living Longer: Is Age 70 the New Age 65? uses the new approach to population aging pioneered at IIASA. The report contains an innovative section on the historical relationship between health and measures of population aging. It concludes that IIASA’s approach is more consistent with changes in health over time than is the conventional approach. The Office of National Statistics report is an example of how IIASA’s research on population aging is increasingly being applied to aid in policy discussions.

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Last edited: 26 November 2019


Sergei Scherbov

Principal Research Scholar and Project Leader Social Cohesion, Health, and Wellbeing Research Group - Population and Just Societies Program

Warren Sanderson

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

IIASA Re-Aging Project


Data Sheets

US Aging Data Sheet 2019; Russian Demographic Data Sheet 2016,2019; Aging Data Sheet 2018; European Demographic Data Sheet 2018,2016

International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)
Schlossplatz 1, A-2361 Laxenburg, Austria
Phone: (+43 2236) 807 0 Fax:(+43 2236) 71 313