National Transfer Accounts: A New Way to Look at Population Change and Economic Growth


National Transfer Accounts Project

NTA Bulletin, No. 1


Honolulu: National Transfer Accounts Project

Publication Date: January 2011 (revised September 2011)
Binding: electronic
Pages: 4
Free Download: PDF


In all modern societies, children and the elderly consume more resources than they produce through their labor, while working-age adults produce more than they consume. What makes this economic lifecycle possible is the flow of resources over time and across generations through a complex of social, economic, and political institutions.

The National Transfer Accounts (NTA) project provides estimates of labor income, consumption, saving, and the flow or resources among age groups, revealing striking similarities and differences between countries. In both Brazil and Mexico, for example, families provide most of the consumption needs of children. But the elderly in Brazil receive large public pensions, supporting a steep rise in consumption during old age, while the elderly in Mexico work longer and support themselves largely through asset income. Their consumption declines in old age.

Changes in population age structure pose special challenges for policymakers. As fertility decline results in fewer children, will families and governments use their resources to improve education and healthcare for each child? As working-age populations expand relative to other age groups, will the public and private sectors keep pace with expanding opportunities for productive employment? And as elderly populations increase, will public pension and healthcare programs be sustainable? NTA provides data and analysis on more than 30 economies to help answer these important questions.