Decomposition of regional convergence in population aging across Europe
In the face of rapidly aging population, decreasing regional inequalities in population composition is one of the regional cohesion goals of the European Union. To our knowledge, no explicit quantification of the changes in regional population aging differentiation exist. We investigate how regional differences in population aging developed over the last decade and how they are likely to evolve in the coming three decades, and we examine how demographic components of population growth contribute to the process. We use the beta-convergence approach to test whether regions are moving towards a common level of population aging. The change in population composition is decomposed into the separate effects of changes in the size of the non-working-age population and of the working-age population. The latter changes are further decomposed into the effects of cohort turnover, migration at working ages, and mortality at working ages. European Nomenclature of Territorial Units for Statistics (NUTS)-2 regions experienced notable convergence in population aging during the period 2003–2012 and are expected to experience further convergence in the coming three decades. Convergence in aging mainly depends on changes in the population structure of East-European regions. Cohort turnover plays the major role in promoting convergence. Differences in mortality at working ages, though quite moderate themselves, have a significant cumulative effect. The projections show that when it is assumed that net migration flows at working ages are converging across European regions, this will not contribute to convergence of population aging. The beta-convergence approach proves useful to examine regional variations in population aging across Europe.