An attempt has been made to account for the marked heterogeneity in the proportions of the elderly people and in cohort survivorship into old age, between Turkey's 67 provinces in terms of current socio-economic characteristics of the provinces. Because of the difficulties involved in meeting the assumptions of ordinary least squares regression analysis, the multivariate method selected involved the application of principal components regression to determine the patterns of covariance between age structure, ‘survivorship’ and socio-economic conditions. The results indicated that an aged provincial population was typically associated with a rural, agriculturally developed economy, and negatively associated with both an urbanised, industrially developed economy and a rural undeveloped agricultural economy. Survivorship into old age, on the other hand, although being negatively associated with a rural undeveloped agricultural economy, was positively related with both industrial and agricultural development. The role of rural-to-urban migration was felt to confound the relationship between urbanisation, industrialisation and population ageing, suggested by demographic transition theory. Finally some of the implications of the study for the social and economic position of the elderly in Turkey were noted and possible policy directions were identified.