Population aging and the generational economy: A global perspective

Ronald Lee and Andrew Mason, lead authors and editors

Selected as an Outstanding Academic Title for 2012

Population Aging and the Generational Economy was selected as an Outstanding Academic Title for 2012 by Choice Magazine, widely used by academic librarians in the US. The awards are chosen based on the best reviewed titles during 2012. The book was also part of an exhibit of the Outstanding Academic Title winners at the American Library Association’s Mid-winter Conference in January 2013.

Selected as a finalist for the Paul A. Samuelson Award for 2012

Now available in paperback.

Direct purchase from Edward Elgar at discounted price

Free download from IDRC

Spanish version of Overview Chapter

Population aging and the generational economy: Updates

Featured at the 2013 PAA conference's Authors Meet Critics session

The Population Association of America had its annual meeting in New Orleans on April 11-13, 2013. An "authors meet critics" session was part of the agenda, featuring the National Transfer Accounts book "Population Aging and the Generational Economy" (lead authors Ronald Lee and Andrew Mason).

The session was chaired by David Canning of Harvard University. We would like to thank David Canning, Frank Heiland (City University of New York), and Bob Willis (University of Michigan) for their comments, as well as all session participants.

Downloadable presentations (PowerPoint Slides):

Authors' Presentation of the book's findings authors meet critics

Presentation by Bob Willis titled "The Direction of Intergenerational Transfers and Demographic Transition: Findings from Lee & Mason" Willis_Lee_Mason_session


Over coming decades, changes in population age structure will have profound implications for the macroeconomy, influencing economic growth, generational equity, human capital, saving and investment, and the sustainability of public and private transfer systems. How the future unfolds will depend on key actors in the generational economy: governments, families, financial institutions, and others. This path-breaking book provides a comprehensive analysis of the macroeconomic effects of changes in population age structure across the globe.

The result of a substantial seven-year research project involving over 50 economists and demographers from Africa, Asia, Europe, Latin America, and the United States, the book draws on a new and comprehensive conceptual framework – National Transfer Accounts – to quantify the economic lifecycle and economic flows across generations. It presents comprehensive estimates of both public and private economic flows between generations, and emphasizes the global nature of changes in population age structure that are affecting rich and poor countries alike.

This unique and informative book will prove an invaluable reference tool for a wide-ranging audience encompassing students, researchers, and academics in fields such as demography, aging, public finance, economic development, macroeconomics, gerontology, and national income accounting; for policy-makers and advisers focusing on areas of the public sector such as education, health, pensions, other social security programs, tax policy, and public debt; and for policy analysts at international agencies such as the World Bank, the IMF, and the UN.


"The culmination of. . . work by Lee, Mason, and their collaborators from around the world to extend Samuelson s framework to accommodate realistic demography, empirical measurement of age-specific earnings, consumption, tax payments, and benefit receipts, the studies. . . demonstrate the power of this integrated economic-demographic framework to advance our understanding of critical public policy challenges faced by countries at different stages of demographic transition and population aging." Robert Willis, University of Michigan, US

"Ron Lee and Andrew Mason's Population Aging and the Generational Economy is a demographic and economic tour-de-force. Their collaborative, intercontinental. . . study of aging, consumption, labor supply, saving, and private and public transfers is the place to go to understand global aging and its myriad and significant economic challenges and opportunities." Laurence Kotlikoff, William Fairfield Warren Professor, Boston University, US

"Lee and Mason have done scholars and practitioners a magnificent service by undertaking this comprehensive, compelling, and supremely innovative examination of the economic consequences of changes in population age structure. The book is a bona fide crystal ball. It will be a must read for the next decade." David Bloom, Clarence James Gamble Professor of Economics and Demography and Chair, Department of Global Health and Population, Harvard School of Public Health, USA


Ronald Lee is Professor of Demography and the Jordan Family Professor of Economics and Director of the Center for the Economics and Demography of Aging at the University of California, Berkeley, USA.

Andrew Mason is Professor of Economics at the University of Hawaii at Manoa and Senior Fellow in Population and Health Studies at the East-West Center, Hawaii, USA.


C.-B. An, J. Bravo, M. Bucheli, A. Chawla, Q. Chen, Y.-J. Chun, A. Collado, G. Donehower, R.I. Gál, V. Gergely, E.-S. Gim, C. González, D. Hallberg, M. Holz, N. Hwang, Y. Jiang, F.A. Kluge, L. Ladusingh, N.M.S. Lai, A.O. Lawanson, R. Lee, S.-H. Lee, L. Li, T. Lindh, J. Malacic, Maliki, A. Mason, R. Matsukura, M. Medgyesi, I. Mejía-Guevara, T. Miller, M.K. Muriithi, R.G. Mutegi, G. Mwabu, M.R. Narayana, G. Öberg, N. Ogawa, O. Olaniyan, C. Patxot, M. Phananiramai, A. Prskawetz, B.L. Queiroz, R.H. Racelis, E. Rentería, E.L.G. Rios-Neto, L. Rosero-Bixby, J.M.I. Salas, J. Sambt, M. Sánchez-Romero, G. Souto, A. Soyibo, C. Thulstrup, A.-C. Tung, C.M. Turra, R. Vaittinen, R. Vanne, P. Zúñiga-Brenes

View parts of the book:

Table of contents

Chapter 1. Population aging and the generational economy: Key findings

Appendix tables

List of authors

Review by David K. Foot

Review by Lili Vargha

Addendum and updates

A summary of the project's finding with selected tables and graphs is now available in the form of wallchart. Alternatively, you can also download the wallchart in the form of NTA Data Sheet. The latter is easier to view on computer screen. Click here for the Data Sheet.

August 2011 c380 pp Hardback 978 1 84844 898 8

Edward Elgar Publishing

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