Aiding and Aging: The Coming Crisis in Support for the Elderly by Kin and State

By John Mogey | Go to book overview

9
KINSHIP AND AGING IN IRELAND

Kathleen O'Higgins

In this chapter some demographic details on the elderly population of the Republic of Ireland are set down, and then a review of research carried out in Ireland on kinship and aging is undertaken. Taking the demographic aspect first, the total population of the Republic in 1986 was 3,540,643, and the number aged 65 and over was 384,355 or 10.85 percent of the population. After a century of increase in the proportion aged 65 and over, a peak of 11.2 percent was reached in 1966. A swing from net emigration to net immigration then caused a decline in this proportion to 10.7 percent in 1981. Projections by Blackwell and McGregor in 1982 showed that the proportion would continue to fall up to 1991, assuming zero migration. However, as may be seen from Table 9.1, there was a slight increase in 1986 over the Blackwell and McGregor ( 1982) projection, presumably caused by the emigration rate, which had risen by 1986.

Table 9.2 considers percentage distribution of population by age groups 0-14, 15-24, 25-64 and over 65 taking 1986 as base and noting projections up to 2021, given specific migration and fertility assumptions. The key feature appears to be the decline in the proportion of the population in the younger age groups. The decline in fertility reduces the child population while the age profile of emigrants depletes the young adult population.

As elsewhere, life expectancy has increased, particularly for women. In 1926 about sixty out of every one hundred people could expect to reach 60 years and beyond. By 1946 this had reached 66 percent. By 1971 it was almost 80 percent. Or, looked at another way, in 1961 at 65, males had a life expectancy of 12.6 years and females 14.4 while in 1979,

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