Life trajectories and transition to old age: Portugal as a case study

Isabel Batista , ISCTE - Instituto Universitário de Lisboa
Maria Mendes, Universidade de Évora
Lídia P. Tomé, Universidade de Évora
Mario Leston Bandeira, Instituto do Envelhecimento - ICS
Alda B. Azevedo, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona and University of Lisbon
Maria Cristina S. Gomes, Universidade de Aveiro
Maria Moreira, Instituto Politécnico de Castelo Branco

In the European context, the Southern countries constitutes undoubtedly the most aged group in terms of the proportion of the number of elderly in the population deeply marked by its recent growth. The aging evolution raises all sorts of debates and controversy linked to its main socio-economic implications. However, the future consequences of the scale, proportion and rate of growth of population aging are likely to be influenced by different individual trajectories in terms of education and occupation, as well by different family projects. Demographic projections are a valuable instrument in that it allows not only predicting future needs and behaviours, based on the analysis of past trends, but also allowing assuming different scenarios of determinants variables and evaluating their consequences. Portugal is used here as a case study for being a country where a sharp acceleration in the aging process was observed in the last two decades. We have elaborated a population projection for the next 50 years using in the case of mortality a combination of probabilistic projection, an improved method originally proposed by Lee-Carter, and with scenario construction in the case of fertility. Population composition projections were also developed, such as household projections, school enrolment or retired population dimension projections. Our study allowed (1) to estimate a rapid and progressive increase of the elderly in a population in demographic decline, (2) for different scenarios of the population composition projections, to observe the influence of different trajectories of individuals and families in forecasting the future characteristics of the elderly population; (3) to recognize the tendency to postpone the transition to old age and to its (un)standardization, in that the increase of life expectancy and remaining number of years to live, under the conditions of mortality in perspective, allows to change the behavioural pattern in this period of life.

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Presented in Session 29: Trajectories into old age