National Transfer Accounts: Understanding the Generational Economy
The goal of the National Transfer Accounts (NTA) project is to improve understanding of how population growth and changing population age structure influence economic growth, gender and generational equity, public finances, and other important features of the macro-economy. Research teams in more than 60 countries are constructing accounts that measure how people at each age produce, consume, and share resources, and save for the future. These accounts are designed to complement the UN System of National Accounts, population data, and other important economic and demographic indicators.
The NTA project is shedding light on many areas of importance to policymakers:
- Public policy on pensions, health care, education, and reproductive health
- Social institutions, such as the extended family
- The full economic contribution of women
- Social, political, and economic implications of population aging
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Opportunities and Challenges of the Demographic Transition for Meeting the 2030 Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals: 12th Global Meeting of the NTA Network, Mexico City, July 23-27, 2018* Conference Program and Agenda
Although countries in Latin America and the Caribbean are at various stages in their demographic transition, most of them are experiencing a period that is particularly conducive to economic development known as the demographic dividend, in which the proportion of working-age people increases relative to the rest of the population. This economically favorable period can contribute to the creation of the necessary savings, productive conditions, financial and social institutions, and social protection systems to accelerate progress towards Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). This beneficial period will be followed –sooner in some countries and later in others— by a period of rapid population ageing that will pose new social and economic challenges which can impede progress towards SDGs.
Taking advantage of the opportunities and responding to the new challenges presented by the demographic transition require forward-looking policies which take account of population dynamics. Progress toward achievement of SDG targets is inseparably linked to population trends. Implementation of policies to seize the opportunities for economic growth, and respond to the social protection needs of a changing population, are also critical opportunities for addressing the high level of economic inequality that has long characterized the region. Hence, the success of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which pledges that no one will be left behind, is strongly bound to anticipating and planning for the effects of the demographic transition that will unfold during the SDG period.
The National Transfer Accounts (NTA) system provides the first comprehensive approach to measuring all aggregate economic flows across age and time (Mason, et al. 2009). The accounts encompass flows realized through capital accumulation and transfers, distinguishing those mediated by public institutions from those relying on private institutions. By providing a framework for understanding the impact of changing age structures on national economies, the NTA system allow us to fully integrate population dynamics into sustainable development planning, which has become even more crucial with the adoption of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, as well as the Montevideo Consensus for Population and Development.
Gender is also a key factor to consider when formulating sustainable development policies. In addition to the demographic dividend, the demographic transition has also created favorable conditions for another phenomenon whose positive impact on the economies of the region may be equal or even superior to the impact of the demographic dividend; this is the “gender dividend”, resulting from the increase in female labor force participation, which implies overcoming discriminatory barriers against women that exist both inside and outside of the labor market. The National Time Transfer Accounts (NTTAs) provide the framework for assessing the magnitude of the gender dividend as well as the changes in gender specialization in economies over time, the hidden “care economy”, and progress toward gender equality, which per se constitutes a specific SDG.
The 12th Global Meeting of the National Transfer Accounts Network will take place July 23-27 in Mexico City, with the theme "Opportunities and Challenges of the Demographic Transition for Meeting the 2030 Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals". It will include a one day Conference that is open to policy makers, the media, researchers, students, and the public, as well as four days of workshops, discussion groups, and training sessions. This meeting is co-organized by Consejo Nacional de Poblacion in Mexico (CONAPO), the East-West Center (EWC), and by the Center for the Economics and Demography of Aging at the University of California in Berkeley (CEDA).
Oportunidades y Retos de la Transición Demográfica para contribuir al cumplimiento de la Agenda 2030 y los Objetivos de Desarrollo Sostenible A pesar de que los países de América Latina y el Caribe se encuentran en distintas etapas de transición demográfica, muchos de ellos están experimentando un periodo que es particularmente favorable para el desarrollo económico, éste es conocido como el dividendo demográfico, en el cual la proporción de personas en edad de trabajar se incrementa de manera relativa al resto de la población. Esta etapa económicamente favorable puede contribuir a la creación de los ahorros necesarios, de las condiciones productivas, de las instituciones sociales y financieras y de sistemas de protección social para acelerar el progreso hacia el cumplimiento de los Objetivos de Desarrollo Sostenible (ODS). A esta fase beneficiosa lo seguirá – en algunos países antes que en otros- un periodo de acelerado envejecimiento de la población que generará nuevos retos sociales y económicos que pueden impedir el progreso hacia los Objetivos de Desarrollo Sostenible.
Aprovechar estas oportunidades y responder a los nuevos retos que presenta la transición demográfica requiere de políticas con visión de futuro que tomen en cuenta la dinámica poblacional. Avanzar hacia el cumplimiento de los ODS se encuentra fuertemente ligado a las tendencias poblacionales. La implementación de las políticas para aprovechar las oportunidades del crecimiento económico y responder a las necesidades de protección social de una población cambiante, son críticas para enfrentar el alto nivel de inequidad económica que ha caracterizado por mucho tiempo a la región. Así pues, el éxito de la Agenda 2030 para el Desarrollo Sostenible, que establece que no debe quedarse nadie atrás, debe anticipar y planear los efectos de la transición demográfica que tendrán lugar durante el periodo de los ODS.
El sistema de Cuentas Nacionales de Transferencia (CNT) provee el primer enfoque integral para medir los flujos económicos agregados a través de la edad y el tiempo (Mason, et al. 2009). Las cuentas incluyen flujos obtenidos a través de la acumulación de capital y transferencias, diferenciando entre aquellas mediadas por instituciones públicas y aquellas que dependen de instituciones privadas. Al proveer un marco para comprender el impacto de los cambios en las estructuras de edad en las economías nacionales, el sistema de CNT permite integrar por completo la dinámica de población en la planeación del desarrollo sostenible, que se ha vuelto esencial con la adopción de la Agenda 2030 así como del Consenso de Montevideo sobre Población y Desarrollo.
El género es un factor clave que debe ser considerado al formular política pública para el desarrollo sostenible. Además del dividendo demográfico, la transición demográfica ha creado también condiciones favorables para otro fenómeno cuyos efectos positivos en las economías de la región pueden ser iguales o superiores a las del dividendo demográfico; éste es el “dividendo de género”, que resulta del incremento de la participación femenina en la fuerza laboral, lo que implica la superación de barreras discriminatorias en contra de las mujeres que existen dentro y fuera del mercado laboral. Las Cuentas Nacionales de Transferencia de Tiempo proveen un marco para evaluar la magnitud del dividendo de género así como los cambios en la especialización de género en las economías a lo largo del tiempo, la economía de cuidados y el progreso hacia la igualdad de género, que por sí misma constituye un ODS específico.
July 23, 2018: Public Conference for Policymakers, Media, Members of Non-Profit Organizations, and Researchers Agenda
July 24-27, 2018 Academic Conference Agenda
Note: Draft agendas subject to revision.
June 9, 2018 is deadline for applying for financial support. See below for more information.
Registration includes admission to scientific sessions, conference materials, certificate of attendance, coffee breaks, and a reception.
For additional information please contact:
Register (no financial support requested)
If you are not seeking financial support, please register here. The registration fee of US$500 is payable via credit card through a secure access site.
Register and apply for financial support
We are pleased to announce that we have some funds to support travel to the Global NTA12 Mexico City Conference. We anticipate that we will only be able to support travel by developing-country participants who are members of the NTA network. Only those who are authors or co-authors of papers being presented at the conference will be funded and at most one author per paper. Our priority is to fund one person from each country, but if funds are sufficient we will consider a second person. Others are welcome to apply, however, and we may be able to provide some support. The following criteria will be used in awarding travel grants:
- An abstract has been submitted for consideration
- Applicant is member of NTA Network
- Applicant is a citizen/resident of a low- or middle-income country
- Applicant is seeking or has secured partial travel support from other institutions
Our goal is to support as many people as possible and encourage all applicants to seek full or partial travel support from other sources. We would particularly encourage multi-person teams to pursue support from other sources.
Those who are requesting financial support should complete the attached application form and email it to to June Kuramoto at http://ewc.leapfile.net. Those who submit request for support will be registered automatically.
June 9, 2018 is deadline for applying for financial support
The venue for the 12th Global Meeting of the National Transfer Accounts Network will be at the Barcelό México Reforma located at Avenida Paseo de La Reforma 1, Col. Cuauhtemoc, 06030, Mexico City, Mexico.
A group block has been made at the Barcelό México Reforma at a cost of US$105/night plus 16% VAT and 3% Tax. To book a room, please go to https://www.barcelo.com/en-gb/ and follow these instructions:
- Type in Barcelo Mexico Reforma, check in date and check out date
- Click on word “Discounts” located below the box that says “Double.”
- Where it says Promotional Code, type in NTA12
- Click on Search. Rate will appears (MXN or USD)
You may also email the hotel directly at
To make a reservation however it is not recommended to email credit card information.
Agenda and other conference activities
Additional information will be available soon.
Please let us know through CONTACT NTA if you have any problems.
Workshop on Effective Use of Data for Policy Making on Aging, Chiang Mai, Thailand, 5-7 December 2017
12th NTA Global Meeting The NTA working group for Asia and the Pacific held a Workshop on the Effective Use of Data for Policy Making on Aging from 5-6 December 2017 in Chiang Mai, Thailand. The workshop brought together about 100 participants from 20 participating countries and three international and regional organizations. Participants included academic experts, government officials, parliamentarians, and representatives from civil society and international organizations.
New Results for Moldova
With support from UNFPA-Moldova, Expert-Grup has completed NTA estimates and a comprehensive analysis of the demographic dynamics in the Moldova economy. The report and a NTA dashboard are available here: Outside Publications that Feature NTA Results
New Global Demographic Dividend Estimates
New estimates of demographic dividends for 166 countries around the world are now available. The estimates were constructed in cooperation with the United Nations Population Division in conjunction with the 50th United Nations Commission on Population and Development. More information including downloadable data are available here: Dividend Data
Counting Women's Work Project
|This NTA project has developed methods for using time-use data to estimate the monetary value of unpaid services produced and consumed by gender and age groups. Combining estimates for the market and the household with the age dimension in a cross-national comparative context will bring women’s total economic contributions into view and establishes sound terms of public discussion and policy debate around issues of gender and the economy. For more information see NTA Bulletin 11: Counting Women's Work: Measuring the Gendered Economy in the Market and at Home and the CWW website.|
Recent NTA Publications
NTA Bulletin 13: What Do We Learn When We "Count Women's Work?"
|Standard measures of economic activity leave out one extremely important component of production and consumption―the unpaid care and household services most often provided by women. Adding unpaid services to measures of economic activity shows that women are not an "untapped" source of labor. Policymakers looking to increase female participation in the formal labor market need to keep in mind that women are already working as much or more than men. In some societies, the time that adolescent girls and young women spend on unpaid housework may be limiting the time they have available to pursue an education. Taking account of unpaid care and housework substantially increases the cost of raising children but also shows that the elderly, who often contribute substantially to care and housework, are not as heavy a burden on their families as sometimes suggested.%|
Download PDF: NTA Bulletin 13
All issues of the NTA Bulletin
NTA Bulletin 12: Sharing the Demographic Dividend: Findings from Low- and Middle-Income Countries in Asia
|Recent work by NTA teams in Asia has shed light on how both the contributions and benefits associated with population change are shared-—among age groups, between genders, among income groups, and between urban and rural residents. Better insights into these distributional issues can help policymakers maximize the potential of demographic change to stimulate economic growth and reduce the disparities among population groups.|
Download PDF: NTA Bulletin 12
All issues of the NTA Bulletin
Second National Transfer Accounts Data Sheet: August 2016
|NTA's second data sheet provides estimates of 23 variables for 59 countries in Africa, East Asia and the Pacific, South and Southeast Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean, North America, and Europe. Estimates cover per capita consumption by children and the elderly, support ratios, fiscal support ratios, human-capital spending, labor income of young adults, and sources of economic support for children and the elderly. |
PDF file: NTA Data Sheet 2016
Excel file: NTA Data Sheet 2016 excel
For a more complete list of NTA publications, go to the Publications section.
Recent Scholarly Publications by NTA Members
Narayana, M.R. (2018). Organizing old age pensions for India’s unorganized workers: A case study of a sector-driven approach. The Journal of the Economics of Ageing. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jeoa.2018.04.001.
Abstract: About 88 percent of India’s total labor force is composed of informal (officially labeled “unorganized”) workers. As many as 388 million such workers lack old-age income security by way of a pension system. The Atal Pension Yojana (APY) is the latest contributory, national-level old-age pension scheme for unorganized workers, with an entry age of 18–40 years. In other words, all current unorganized workers above the age of 40 are excluded. How could a national pension system viably guarantee equal pension benefits to all current unorganized workers? This paper considers how such a system might work by offering a case study of a non-contributory pension scheme for building and other construction workers in Karnataka State, India. The results indicate that this state-level pension scheme, fully funded by sector-specific receipts, is financially viable and sustainable with high levels of coverage and adequacy. Additional analyses outline the scenarios under which pension benefits could be extended to all informal workers in the sector studied.
Narayana, M.R. (2017). Universal social pension for elderly individuals in India: Public expenditure requirements and fiscal sustainability. Indian Growth and Development Review. 10(2):89-116. https://doi.org/10.1108/IGDR-07-2017-0047.
Abstract: Public expenditure requirements for the universal social pension scheme (USPS) scenarios are remarkably higher than current expenditure on the Indira Gandhi National Old Age Pension Scheme (IGNOAPS). Short-term analyses offer economic justifications for an increase in pension benefits either by a single adjustment factor or combined adjustment factors. Long-term analyses show that the IGNOAPS and proposed USPS scenarios are fiscally sustainable but sensitive to five parameters (productivity growth, inflation rate, discount rate, income elasticity public pension expenditure and income elasticity of health expenditure).
Temple, Jeromey B., James Mahmud Rice, and Peter F. McDonald (2017). Mature age labour force participation and the life cycle deficit in Australia: 1981-82 to 2009-10. The Journal of the Economics of Ageing. 10: 21-33. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jeoa.2017.08.001.
Abstract: With inexorable population ageing, successive Australian governments have sought to implement policies, on both the production and consumption side, that place a greater onus on older citizens to be financially self-sufficient as a means of offsetting costs due to ageing. Over the previous 30 years, a time of considerable labour market growth and policy change, mature-age labour force participation increased significantly in Australia. In this paper, we utilise the National Transfer Accounts methodology to examine the impact that the increases in mature-age labour force participation have had on the Life Cycle Deficit – the difference between what age groups consume and what they produce through their own labour. We expected and found that the age entering the life cycle deficit is strongly influenced by changing patterns of mature-age labour force participation. Both cross-sectional and cohort analyses show that over this 30-year time horizon, the ages at which the life cycle deficit moves from positive to negative territory and vice versa have gradually increased over time. The growth in mature-age labour force participation since the turn of this century has led to large increases in mature-age labour income, the most important effect of which appears to have been a substantial increase in private saving by mature-age Australians. Implications of a recent slowing in mature-age labour force participation in Australia are discussed.
Dramani, Latif and Oga, Idossou Jean-Bapiste (2017). Understanding demographic dividends in Africa: The NTA approach, Journal of Demographic Economics, doi:10.1017/dem.2016.30.
Lee, Ronald, and Andrew Mason (2017). Cost of Aging. Finance & Development. (International Monetary Fund's quarterly publication). 54(1): 7-9.
Summary: As populations age and grow more slowly, GDP and national income growth will most certainly slow down, but the effect on individuals—-as measured by per capita income and consumption—-may be quite different. Whether population aging is good or bad for an economy defies simple answers. The extent of the problem will depend on the severity of population aging and how well public policy adjusts to new demographic realities.
Vargha, Lili, Robert Ivan Gal, and Michele O. Crosby-Nagy (2017). Household production and consumption over the life cycle: National Time Transfer Accounts in 14 European countries. Demographic Research. 36(32): 905-44.
Summary: We show that the nonmarket economic life cycle of men differs from that of women. The gender gap in household production is not evenly distributed over the life cycle. Women of working age contribute the most in net terms, while the main beneficiaries of household goods and services are children and to a lesser extent adult men. These patterns are similar across countries, with variations in the gender- and age-specific levels of home production and consumption.
For a more complete list of scholarly publications by NTA members, go to the Publications section.
|NTA Manual.||Population aging and the generational economy. |
Ronald Lee and Andrew Mason, principal authors and editors
For a more complete list of NTA publications, go to the Publications section.
Other Publications that Feature NTA Analysis
Olanrewaju Olaniyan, Adedoyin Soyibo, et al., 2018. Harnessing the Demographic Dividend for Sustainable Development: 2016 Demographic Dividend Report of Nigeria
This comprehensive report on the Demographic Dividend incorporates up-to-date demographic data and newly available NTA estimates for 2016.
2015-2016 World Bank and International Monetary Fund Global Monitoring Report
|The 2015-2016 World Bank and International Monetary Fund Global Monitoring Report (GMR) focused on demographic trends that will impact future economic growth and development. Analyses of NTA data took center stage in the discussion of how changing population age structures shape development trajectories in many countries. GMR 2015/2016 link, and online snippets are available HERE.|
Website on the Demographic Dividend
A website, co-hosted by the Bill & Melinda Gates Institute for Population and Reproductive Health at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and the Population Reference Bureau, prominently features NTA's work on the Demographic Dividend in Africa. The objective is to host resource materials available from a number of organizations engaged in research, advocacy, and policy work related to the demographic dividend. Organizations are encouraged to share their collective and individual contributions to the research literature and base of policy communication materials on the demographic dividend by emailing either a link or a PDF file.
The Graying of the American Economy: Fiscal Math Is Daunting: Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta's 2015 Annual Report
Gretchan Donehower provided NTA information to the Atlanta Federal Reserve Bank on taxes and social contributions paid and public benefits received by age. Two NTA charts are featured in the on-line write-up of the bank's 2015 annual report.
Recent NTA Meetings
NTA: Principles, Methodology, and Construction, Moscow NRU HSE, 20-22 June 2017
A Workshop on National Transfer Accounting: Principles, methodology, and the main problems of construction was organized in Moscow on 20-22 June 2017. It was held at the National Research University Higher School of Economics. The participants represented 12 countries of Eastern Europe and Central Asia.
NTA Conference in Europe: Selected Presentations Available
The Hungarian Demographic Research Institute recently hosted a conference on National Transfer Accounts as part of the European FP7 AGENTA project funded by the European Commission. All presentations from the open session of this 3rd AGENTA Project Meeting, held in Budapest on 9 March 2017, are available online. More information about the Agenta Project is also available.
For more information about NTA meetings, go to the Meetings section.
NTA in the News: Recent Articles
4 April 2018: The case for fewer babies in The Korea Times
In this article, Ronald Lee argues that the costs of Korea's low birth rate may be somewhat exaggerated.
8 July 2017: The Economist special report on aging and longevity draws on NTA analysis
Two articles in this special report quote NTA members Andrew Mason and Ronald Lee:
- Footloose and fancy-free: Retirement is out, new portfolio careers are in
- Your money and your life: Financing longevity
A fuller list of media coverage of NTA is at NTA in the news
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