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How many old people have ever lived?

Sánchez-Romero, Miguel and Ediev, Dalkhat and Feichtinger, Gustav and Prskawetz, Alexia (2017) How many old people have ever lived? Demographic Research, 36 (54). pp. 1667-1702. ISSN 1435-9871

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Abstract

Background: Uninformed generalizations about how many elderly people have ever lived, based on a poor understanding of demography, are found in a surprising number of important publications. Objective: We extend the methodology applied to the controversial question "how many people have ever been born?" initiated by Fucks, Winkler, and Keyfitz, to the proportion of people who have ever reached a certain age y and are alive today (denoted as TT(y, T ))). Methods: We first analyze the fraction TT(y, T )) by using demographic data based on UN estimates. Second, we show the main mathematical properties of TT(y, T )) by age and over time. Third, we complete our analysis by using alternative population models. Results: We estimate that the proportion who have ever been over 65 that are alive today (as of 2010) ranges between 5.5 and 9.5%. We extend the formal demographic literature by considering the fraction of interest in two frequently referred models: the stable and hyperbolic growth populations. Conclusions: We show that statements claiming half of all people who have ever reached the age of 65 are alive today ranges would never be attainable, neither theoretically nor empirically, according to existing data. Contribution: We have produced for the first time a harmonized reconstruction of the human population by age throughout history. For a given contemporaneous time T, we demonstrate analytically and numerically that TT(y, T )) is nonmonotonic in age y. For a given age y, we show tthat TT(y, T) may also be nonmonotonic with respect to T.

Item Type: Article
Keywords: elderly, formal demography, people ever lived, population aging
Divisions: Departments > Sozioökonomie > Sozialpolitik > Demographie > Wittgenstein Centre
Version of the Document: Published
Variance from Published Version: None
Depositing User: Mohammad Al Hessan
Date Deposited: 18 Dec 2017 13:24
Last Modified: 18 Dec 2017 16:15
Related URLs:
URI: http://epub.wu.ac.at/id/eprint/5934

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