The age structure of a population is one of the basic demographic characteristics and is helpful for demographic analysis and for socio-economic development planning. Generally, less developed countries have young populations, while more developed countries have old or ageing populations (Population Reference Bureau, 2011). The relative numbers of different age groups have a significant impact on social and economic policies and on the way people live their lives.
The age dependency ratio is the ratio of the number of people in dependent age groups compared to the economically productive age groups. Dependent age groups are the young (aged under 15) and the old (over 65). People aged from 15 to 64 are classed as economically productive. The age dependency ratio is often used as an indicator of the economic burden of the countries. In countries with high age dependency ratios there is a large number of elderly and young people who are dependent on the economic productivity of the people in the middle age group. The large proportion of children in the population means countries with very high birth rates have the highest age dependency ratios.