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Past Featured Event

Public Lecture: ‘The Process of Population Ageing and its Challenges in Asia’

Dr Heather Booth, Associate Professor of Demography, Australian Demographic and Social Research Institute (ADSRI), ANU College of Arts and Social Sciences, Australia.

Abstract: Most Asian populations are undergoing population ageing, but the degree of ageing varies considerably. This paper examines the patterns of population ageing in the countries of Asia since 1950. It finds six geographically-defined groups, within which ageing patterns are relatively homogeneous. The underlying causes of population ageing are demographic transition, involving the decline of both fertility and mortality, and international out-migration. Rapid economic development and demographic transition are associated with advanced ageing. In contrast, warfare and significant unrest, and low levels of development are associated with delayed demographic transition and reverse ageing. The consequences of population ageing can be formulated as two main social security challenges: income support in retirement and the provision of personal care. The viability of traditional support systems has been brought into question in the context of increased longevity, small family size, changed gender relations, the out-migration of children for employment and the demands of the modern economy. In fact, the intergenerational contract is being upheld through a series of adaptations including diversified living arrangements, monetary transfers and gifts, attitudinal change, revised expectations and a relaxation of customary roles. These adaptations often do not adversely affect the well-being of elders. The establishment of formal old-age social security systems in Asia has been slow relative to other countries. System reform is beginning to meet the challenges of fiscal sustainability posed by ongoing population ageing. Social pensions (safety nets) are more commonplace; though their value remains low, social pensions are instrumental in reducing poverty and increasing well-being in old age. Policies that support adaptation through state social security systems and other enabling measures will enhance the well-being of the older and working generations alike.


Biography: Heather Booth is Associate Professor of Demography at the Australian Demographic and Social Research Institute (ADSRI) in the ANU College of Arts and Social Sciences. She has over 30 years' experience in demographic research in developed and developing countries.

Heather leads the ADSRI Group on Longevity, Ageing and Mortality (GLAM).

In 2012, Heather won the College of Arts and Social Sciences (CASS) Award for Excellence in Supervision. Heather also served as ANU Convenor of Graduate Research in Demography in 2011.

Heather is Founding Editor of the Journal of Population Research (JPR), an international peer-reviewed journal launched in 2000, which she edited from 2000 to 2006.

Heather began her career at the London School of Economics before moving to the USA to join the POPLAB program at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. In her doctoral research at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, Heather developed the Booth Standard for use with the Brass Relational Gompertz Model of fertility.

After completing her doctorate, Heather undertook research on ethnic minority populations in Britain and Western Europe. In 1984, Heather relocated to Nouméa, New Caledonia to take up a position as demographer with the South Pacific Commission, working throughout the Pacific Islands. She later worked as an international consultant for a wide range of funding agencies. After migrating to Australia, Heather joined the ANU Demography and Sociology Program in 1998.

Heather has published on a wide range of topics including demographic modelling and forecasting, population ageing, socio-demography of ageing and longevity, mortality decomposition, Pacific Island demography and the timing of family formation, suicide among Pacific Island youth, European migration and ethnic minority populations, demographic estimation and gender statistics.

For more information about Professor Booth please visit:

Event Details

10 February 2016 13:00 - 14:00


Oxford Institute of Population Ageing

66 Banbury Road, Oxford, OX2 6PR