National Transfer Accounts
The goal of the National Transfer Accounts (NTA) project is to improve our understanding of the generational economy. How does population growth and changing age structure influence economic growth, gender and generational equity, public finances, and other important features of the macroeconomy? As part of the NTA project, research teams in more than 40 countries are constructing accounts, measuring how people at each age produce, consume, and share resources, and save for their future. The accounts are designed to complement the UN System of National Accounts, population data, and other important economic and demographic indicators.
The National Transfer Accounts project is shedding new light on many areas of importance to policymakers. These include the evolution of intergenerational transfer systems; public policy with respect to pensions, health care, education, reproductive health, and social institutions, such as the extended family; and the social, political, and economic implications of population aging.
New Release: National Transfer Accounts Data Sheet, August 2016
Summary: NTA's new 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. The first six columns compare per capita consumption by young people (age 0-24) and the elderly (age 65+) with consumption by working-age adults (age 25-64). Two types of consumption are distinguished—private consumption and public consumption, which includes government-provided education and healthcare. In general, private consumption is considerably lower for young people than for working-age adults, while private consumption by the elderly is similar. Public consumption is generally higher for both children and the elderly than for working-age adults, although it is lower for the elderly in several African countries.
The support ratio is an important indicator of population age structure that measures the effective number of producers relative to the effective number of consumers. The next three columns of the data sheet give support ratios for 2015 and estimates for 2035 and 2055. In the early stages of development, the support ratio can reach very low levels because there are so many children, for example in Ghana, where there were only 41 effective producers in 2015 for every 100 effective consumers. This ratio is projected to increase to 52 producers per 100 consumers in 2055 with favorable benefits for the economy. The support ratio is rising throughout Africa and in some countries of South and Southeast Asia. Eventually, as large groups of workers reach retirement age, the support ratio will go down again. China, for example, had 53 producers for every 100 consumers in 2015, projected to decrease to 39 in 2050. In East Asia, Europe, North America, and most countries of South America and the Caribbean, the support ratio is projected to decline for the foreseeable future.
The fiscal support ratio, in the next two columns, measures how changes in population age structure will influence government budgets if current age-profiles of taxes and benefits remain constant. Projected values are expressed as a percentage of the ratio in 2015. The fiscal support ratio is projected to rise over the next two decades in Africa (although data are available for only three countries) and South and Southeast Asia, meaning that tax revenues will increase relative to public benefits, but in all other regions, the fiscal support ratio will decline, putting pressure on government budgets.
The next three columns give public and private human-capital spending per child, which includes spending on education and healthcare. Total human-capital spending ranges from nearly five times the average annual labor income of a prime-age adult (30–49) in East Asia to only two times annual labor income in Africa.
The next column gives a sense of earning opportunities for young workers by comparing the per capita labor income of young adults (age 20-29) with labor income for adults in their prime working years (age 30-49). At the two extremes, young adults in Africa earn 46 percent of the income of prime-age adults, while young adults in South and Southeast Asia earn 65 percent.
The last eight columns show the economic resources available to children and the elderly. These two age groups rely on four sources to support their consumption: labor income, public transfers, private transfers, and income from assets. In the countries where data are available, children are supported primarily by private transfers, while the elderly tend to rely on public transfers and asset income.
The data sheet is available for download at NTA Data Sheet 2016
Demographic Dividend and African Development: 11th Global Meeting of the NTA Network, Dakar and Saly, Senegal, 20-24 June 2016
The Prime Minister of the Republic of Senegal, H.E. Mahammad Boune Abdallah Dionne, opened the High Level Symposium On the Demographic Dividend and Development in Africa, which took place in Dakar, Senegal on 20 June 2016. In his opening remarks, the Prime Minister recommended improving policies and increasing investment in youth employability.
On 20-24 June 2016, African leaders and more than 100 researchers gathered in Dakar and Saly, Senegal, to present and discuss new research and policy directions related to the generational economy. During the first day of the meeting, held in Dakar, the Prime Minister of Senegal, former African presidents, ministers, leading scholars, community and religious leaders, and representatives of key regional institutions met to review evidence and to discuss action needed to capitalize on the demographic dividend in Africa. Regional and global institutions represented included the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), the United Nations Population Program (UNFPA), the World Bank, the African Development Bank, the Economic Commission for Africa, and the United Nations.
From June 21-24, researchers and policy experts from Africa, Asia, Europe, Latin America and the Caribbean, and North America presented and discussed current and recent research on six themes:
- Demographic Dividend and African Development
- Counting Women's Work: Gender and Time Use
- Challenges of Population Aging
- Inequality and Generational Equity
- The World through the NTA Lens
- NTA Frontiers
Counting Women's Work Project
This NTA project has developed methodology for using time-use data to estimate the monetary value of unpaid services produced and consumed by specific gender and age groups. These activities are traditionally known as “women’s work”: cooking, cleaning, maintaining households, and caring for children and the elderly.
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 reveal patterns of difference by gender. This sets the terms of public discussion and policy debate around issues of gender and the economy.
See more at the CWW website.
NTA in Print and Online: Recent Scholarly Publications Based on NTA Research
'Dramani, Latif (2016). Economie générationnelle et dividende démographique Éléments de diagnostic au Sénégal, Tome 1. Paris: L'Harmattan.'
'Dramani, Latif (2016). Economie générationnelle et dividende démographique Théorie et applications au Sénégal, Tome 2. Paris: L'Harmattan.'
Editor's note: La théorie de l’économie intergénérationnelle, en réunissant plusieurs disciplines, permet de comprendre l’impact sur l’économie des questions démographiques (fécondité, vieillissement, etc.) et sociologiques (éducation, travail, etc.). Dans cet ouvrage, l’auteur s’attache à poser le diagnostic des dynamiques de pauvreté au Sénégal ainsi que celui de la situation de l’emploi, de la santé ou de l'éducation.
Georges, Patrick, and Aylin Seçkin (2016). From pro-natalist rhetoric to population policies in Turkey? An OLG general equilibrium analysis. Economic Modelling. 56:79-93. Available online
Abstract: We build an overlapping generation (OLG) general equilibrium model of Turkey with survival rates and endogenous labour supply to simulate the economic, fiscal, welfare, and intergenerational redistribution impacts of the medium and high fertility demographic scenarios projected by the United Nations. We assume that the high fertility variant is a realistic demographic proxy for pro-natalist policies in Turkey. Our results show that on a purely economic basis, a higher fertility scenario in Turkey appears open to criticisms as it cannot offset the social security pressures of ageing, and it also involves intergenerational welfare redistributions so that current young adults are unlikely to endorse natalist rhetoric and policies.
'Khondker, Bazlul H. and Muhammad Moshiur Rahman (2016). Will Bangladesh miss out on first demographic dividend? in S. Raihan (ed.), SANEM Thinking Aloud.'' 2(8): 2. Khondker_Rahman_Jan2016'''
First paragraph: Bangladesh has entered the window of population dividend opportunities from 1991 onward as the dependency ratio decreased. However, the expressed time of the window of opportunities is not bolstered by observational confirmation. The absence of certain proof on the period and extent of the demographic dividend is a gap policymakers must address when setting needs for human resource and capital investment to gather the economic advantages of the demographic move. Applying the methodology of National Transfer Accounts (NTA), this study is an endeavor to provide some observational evidence so as to evaluate the demographic benefit for Bangladesh and to explore the conditions to appreciate it.
Mason, Andrew, Ronald Lee, and Jennifer Xue Jiang (2016). Demographic dividends, human capital, and saving. The Journal of the Economics of Ageing. 7:106-22. Available online
Abstract: The objective of this paper is to provide new evidence about the development effects of changes in population age structure and human and physical capital. This extends our previous work by developing and employing a more comprehensive model of demographic dividends. In addition, we extend earlier analysis about the quantity-quality tradeoff using newly available NTA data for 39 countries, in contrast to the nineteen with the necessary data in our 2010 study. This permits a more detailed analysis, treating public expenditures and private expenditures separately, and considering the role of per capita income as well as fertility and child dependency in relation to human capital spending. The analysis is used in a simulation with realistic demography to show how human capital investment has varied in relation to the changing demography from 1950 to the present, and how it might be expected to change over the rest of this century.
These new estimates are then used in a more comprehensive model that incorporates both human and physical capital. The analysis provides estimates of the first and second demographic dividends and how they are affected by speed of fertility decline. The timing of the effects is documented and the relative importance of investment in physical and human capital is assessed. This improves our understanding of the economic implications of the demographic dividend and particularly the “second demographic dividend.”
'Narayana, M.R. (2015). Age structure transition, population ageing and economic growth: New evidence and implications for India. Chapter 5 in K.V. Ramaswamy (ed.), Labour, Employment and Economic Growth in India.'' New Delhi: Cambridge University Press, pp.127-152. Narayana_Chap5_2015'''
Summary of major conclusions: Over the period from 2005 to 2050, the growth effect of India's age structure transition is positive due to the first demographic dividend, largely contributed by productivity growth. Population aging as such may not have negative implications for India's economic growth because all elderly individuals are not out of the labor force, do not have zero economic support ratio, and do not impose a net burden on the tax-paying working population. This conclusion is mainly driven by the presence of informal-sector jobs for elderly individuals with no formal age of retirement, and he fact that their labor and non-labor income contributes to direct and indirect taxes.
Rentería, Elisenda, Rosario Scandurra, Guadalupe Souto, and Concepció Patxot (2016). Intergenerational money and time transfers by gender in Spain: Who are the actual dependants? Demographic Research. 34:689-704. Available online.
Abstract: The analysis of intergenerational transfers can shed light on the interaction between population age structure and welfare. Nevertheless, a thorough examination of this issue requires consideration of both monetary (market) and time (non-market) transfers. We analyse market and non-market production, consumption, and transfers by age and gender for Spain from 2009−2010 using National (Time) Transfer Accounts (NTA and NTTA) methodology. Using National Accounts, microdata from different surveys, and the Time Use Survey, we estimate age and sex-specific profiles of monetary and time production and consumption for Spain. Consequently, a surplus or deficit and the resulting transfers are obtained. We observe higher labour income for men with respect to women throughout the age profile. Nevertheless, women spend more hours in total (market and non-market activities) than men. This division drives an asymmetry in private transfers. While men are net donors of money to other age groups during their working life, women are net donors of time to other household members (mainly children and their partners) over their lives. The inclusion of the non-market economy in the analysis of intergenerational transfers is crucial to observe real inequalities between genders throughout the life cycle. This challenges the ‘economic dependency’ of women based on a market economy. The results suggest that the public sector in Spain should reinforce policies that take into account women’s contribution to the welfare of other population groups and call for policies that reconcile professional and family obligations.
Sambt, Jože, Gretchen Donehower, and Miroslav Verbič (2016). Incorporating household production into the National Transfer Accounts for Slovenia. Post-Communist Economies. 28(2): 249-67. Available online
Abstract: The National Transfer Accounts (NTA) have recently been developed to measure economic flows across age groups. In this article, we extend the NTA for Slovenia by including the value of unpaid household production. Based on time-use data, we discover that people in Slovenia spent even more time on household production than on paid work, which emphasises the necessity of including household production in the NTA analysis. We find that there are large net transfers of household production flowing from adults to children, and to a lesser extent also to the elderly. We calculate unpaid production separately for both genders, and discover that females provide much more unpaid production and total productive work than males. In addition, they face a much more intensive ‘rush hour of life’ than males. We expect that similar patterns may be found in other post-communist countries where equalising labour force participation by gender was central to the communist agenda, but where no similar efforts were undertaken to equalise household work burdens.
For a more complete list of scholarly publications based on NTA research, go to the Publications section.
National Transfer Accounts Data Sheet, August 2016
Summary: NTA's new 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, an index of fiscal support ratios, human-capital spending, labor income of young adults, and sources of economic support for children and the elderly. See above for a more detailed description.
NTA Bulletin 10: Population Change and the Economic Security of Older People in Asia, September 2016
Summary: Populations are growing older everywhere in the world, but the pace of population aging in Asia is unprecedented, primarily linked to rapid fertility decline. Asia’s rapid population aging has led to policy concerns about how the region’s growing elderly populations will be cared for and supported. How many of today’s elderly remain in the workforce, and how much do they earn? To what extent do they support themselves from assets acquired during their working years? How do families and governments meet the needs of elderly people who consume more than they produce? And what does the future hold?
Analysis by the National Transfer Accounts (NTA) project suggests that capital accumulation can potentially make a strong contribution toward meeting the needs of Asia’s growing elderly populations. If the needs of the elderly are met through greater reliance on saving during the working years, then population aging will lead to an increase in assets that also has favorable implications for economic growth. Investment in human capital is another important response to population aging. Improvements in the productivity of each worker—fostered by investment in child health and education—can help maintain economic growth even as the working-age population shrinks relative to the elderly.
The sheer speed and scale of population aging in Asia add a sense of urgency as policymakers start planning for a grayer future. Leaders would do well to learn from the policy mistakes of advanced economies, including fiscally unsustainable pension systems and rigid requirements for early retirement. Once inappropriate old-age support programs become entrenched, they become politically very difficult to reverse. By contrast, programs that invest in children’s health and education and foster capital accumulation will ensure support for tomorrow’s elderly populations while sustaining economic growth that benefits everyone.
NTA Bulletin 9: National Transfer Accounts and Demographic Dividends, July 2016 revised
Summary: Demographic dividends are economic benefits that arise from changes in population age structure and from other demographic forces, enhancing opportunities for economic development. As falling fertility results in fewer dependent children relative to workers, a country experiences a first demographic dividend, with resources becoming available to increase investments and raise standards of living. The economic boost can be substantial, but it eventually comes to an end as the smaller population of children grows up to become a smaller population of workers while the number of elderly keeps growing.
Depending on the choices made by families and the policies pursued by governments, however, the first dividend can direct more resources into pro-growth investment, resulting in a second, more long-lasting, demographic dividend. NTA analysis over the past few years points to two important channels through which this occurs:
1. A working-age population facing a long period of retirement due to improvements in life expectancy has a powerful incentive to accumulate assets
2. Families and governments experiencing low fertility invest more in the education and health of each child. The improved skills and capabilities of each worker can more than compensate for the slower growth of the work force
For the many countries currently experiencing a first demographic dividend, NTA can help understand how the dividend can be accelerated, prolonged, and directed toward important development goals. Other countries, which have completed the first dividend, can use NTA to understand how economic benefits can be sustained and how governments and families can best prepare for population aging.
Who pays for demographic change? Population Europe Policy Brief explores economic lifecycle
In the latest Population Europe Population and Policy Compact, Hippolyte d'Albis, Tommy Bengtsson, Alexia Furnkranz-Prskawetz and Robert Ivan Gal discuss the consequences of population ageing, and propose possible approaches countries may take to maintain fiscal sustainability. Read more about their latest Policy Brief here.
Thailand NTA infomercial previewed in Asia meeting
(Cross-posted from NTA Asia) The Thailand Office of the National Economic and Social Development Board and the United Nations Population Fund-Thailand co-produced a brief infomercial on the implications of an ageing population. The video was previewed at the recent Asia Regional NTA Meeting held in Bangkok, Thailand on December 3-4, and will be formally launched on December 21.
Expecting Visitors? Planning to Attend a Meeting? New Brochure May Help You Introduce the World to NTA
A newly updated NTA brochure is now available in English and French. You may wish to distribute copies when you are introducing NTA to a broader audience.
See longer 5-minute version here.
For a more complete list of NTA publications, go to the Publications section.
NTA in Print and Online: The Classics
National Transfer Accounts Manual: Measuring and Analyzing the Generational Economy. New York: United Nations, 2013.
Population aging and the generational economy: A global perspective. Ronald Lee and Andrew Mason, principal authors and editors, Cheltenham: Edward Elgar, 2011.
For a more complete list of NTA publications, go to the Publications section.
Other Publications that Feature NTA Analysis
New World Bank Report on Aging in East Asia Includes NTA Research
NTA Research Highlighted in Latest WB-IMF Global Monitoring Report
This year's World Bank and International Monetary Fund Global Monitoring Report (GMR) focuses on demographic trends that will impact future economic growth and development. Analyses of NTA data take center stage in discussing how changing population age structures shape the development trajectories in many countries. GMR 2015/2016 link, and online snippets are available HERE.
NTA Research Highlighted in Special Issue of ''The Journal of the Economics of Aging--Exploring the Generational Economy''
All articles in this special issue of The Journal of the Economics of Aging are by NTA members. Congratulations to our colleagues for their excellent contributions. At the moment, at least, all articles appear to be downloadable from this website: Journal of the Economics of Aging, vol. 5, April 2015
Website on the Demographic Dividend Spotlights NTA Analysis
A new 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.
NTA Results Featured in US Federal Reserve Report
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
North America NTA Regional Meeting held in Berkeley, 14 December 2015
The North America NTA regional meeting was held at the University of California (UC)-Berkeley on . The meeting was sponsored by the National Institute on Aging, with additional support from the Center on the Economics and Demography of Aging, UC-Berkeley. View the meeting agenda here.
Asia NTA Regional Meeting held in Bangkok, 3-4 December 2015
The 2015 NTA Regional Meeting for Asia was held on 3-4 December, at the Amari Watergate Hotel in Bangkok, Thailand. The meeting was supported by the Asia Pacific Regional Office (APRO) of UNFPA and the East-West Center. Learn more about the Asia NTA meeting agenda, presentations and participants here.
Six Francophone African Countries Meet in Senegal, 20-30 October 2015
With support from UNFPA West African Regional Office and CREFAT, participants from six countries are meeting in Saly, Senegal. Members are being introduced to NTA and the concepts related to the Demographic Dividend. To learn more about the meeting look here.
AGENTA Project Meeting in Barcelona, June 2015
During the second week of June 2015, the AGENTA project met in Barcelona, Spain. The aim of this meeting was to provide a progress overview on the first 1½ years of the project, to discuss current work, and to ensure that work from all partners is aligned.
Prof. Jonathan Gershuny, Director of Oxford University's Centre for Time Use Research, gave the keynote address, “Gendered age-transfer national accounts: Using time diary data comprehensively.”
All papers and presentations provided by the speakers are available in the Workshop Agenda. As all the presentations and discussions were recorded, the organizing team from the University of Barcelona is kindly providing the possibility to watch the recorded video at: First AGENTA meeting
We thank the team of University of Barcelona for organizing a very successful meeting. For more on the AGENTA Project, check out the project website.
To read about earlier NTA meetings, go to the Meetings section.
As of May 2016, research teams are conducting NTA analysis for more than 70 countries around the world.
Mongolia joins the NTA Project
We welcome Enkhtsetseg Byambaa, Erdenechimeg Ulziisuren, and Altantsetseg Togtoo to our project. The key institution for Mongolia will be announced later.
Egypt joins the NTA Project
We welcome Ali Abd Elwahed Rashed and Mohamed Ismail to our project. The key institution for Egypt will be announced later.
Iran joins the NTA Project
We welcome Mohammad Jalal Abbasi-Shavazi, Majid Koosheshi, Sajad Darzi Ramandi, Meimanat Hosseini-Chavoshi, and Leili Niakan to our project. The key institution for Iran will be the University of Tehran.
Malaysia joins the NTA Project
We welcome Tengku Aizan Hamid, Jariah Masud, Sharifah Azizah Haron, Judhiana Abd Ghani, and Rusmawati Said to our project. The key institution for Malaysia will be announced later.
Bangladesh joins the NTA Project
We welcome Bazlul Haque Khondker, Selim Raihan, Muhammad Moshiur Rahman, and Syer Tazim Haque to our project. The key institution will be the South Asian Network on Economic Modeling (SANEM).
Netherlands joins the NTA Project
We welcome Arjan Bruil, Florin Barb, Jan van Tongeren, and Ruud Picavet to our project. The key institution for the Netherlands will be Statistics Netherland.
Luxembourg joins the NTA Project
We welcome Louis Chauvel and Javier Olivera (also a member of the Peru NTA team) to our project. The key institution for Luxembourg will be the University of Luxembourg.
Russia joins the NTA Project
We welcome Mikhail Denissenko, Vladimir Kozlov, Anna Mironova, Natalia Akindinova, Andrey Chernyavskiy, Olga Kuzina, and Dilyara Ibragimova to our project. The key institution for Russia will be the National Research University - Higher School of Economics (Moscow).
Ghana joins the NTA Project
We welcome Eugenia Amporfu, Prince Boakye Frimpong, and Daniel Sakyi to our project. The key institution for Ghana will be announced later.
Benin joins the NTA Project
We welcome Barthélémy Biao, Idossou Jean-Baptiste Oga, Dètondji Camille Guidime, Bachir Olatoundji Souberou, and Assogba Hodonou to our project. The key institution for Benin will be the University of Parakou.
New Peru NTA team
We welcome Carlos Aramburu and Janina Virginia Leon Castillo to our project. They join current member Javier Olivera.
Poland joins the NTA Project
We welcome Agnieszka Chlon-Dominczak, Anita Abramowska-Kmon, Irena Kotowska, and Strzelecki Andrzej to our project. The key institution for Poland will be announced later.
Cambodia joins the NTA Project
We welcome H.E. San Sy Than, H.E. Tuon Thavrak, Ms. Hang Lina, Mr. Theng Pagnathun, Mr. Poch Sovanndy, Mr. Nor Vanndy, Mr. Khim Fadane, Mr. Yim Saonith, and Mr. Keo Bun Chhav to our project. The key institution for Cambodia is the National Institute of Statistics, Ministry of Planning.
For a complete list of NTA Countries...
NTA in the News: Recent Articles
2 March 2016: CCTV America program, Workers in China have mixed feelings about retirement age increase, features interview with NTA's Andrew Mason
As the Chinese government considers raising the retirement age, Mason sees several opportunities for improvement. Read the article and see the interview on the CCTV website.
Earlier media coverage of NTA at NTA in the news
Support for this project has been provided by the National Institute on Aging: NIA, R37-AG025488 and NIA, R01-AG025247; the International Development Research Centre (IDRC); the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation; the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation through the Gates Institute for Population and Reproductive Health, Bloomberg School of Public Health; the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA); United Nations Population Division; Asian Development Bank; the World Bank; the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation; the Seventh Framework Programme of the European Union; and the Academic Frontier Project for Private Universities: matching fund subsidy from MEXT (Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology), 2006-10, granted to the Nihon University Population Research Institute.
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