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dependency ratio

  The number of children (aged 0-14) and old people (aged 65 or over) in a population as a ratio of the number of adults (aged 15-64). The dependency ratio is a useful comparative indicator of the average number of people that each member of the active or potentially active (i.e. employed) population has to support. The definitions by age group are to an extent arbitrary and may be varied to take account of, for example, changes in retirement or school-leaving age. The general definition of adults as aged 15-64 tends to overstate the actual size of the active population in a typical western society. Changes in the dependency ratio may have profound implications for social and economic policy, for example the provision of schools and pensions. (See also age and sex structure; population pyramid.) (PEO)

Suggested Reading Clarke, J.I. 1972: Population geography, 2nd edn. Oxford and New York: Pergamon.



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