Aging difference worldwide
The world’s population is aging: virtually every country in the world is experiencing growth in the number and proportion of older persons in their population.
Population ageing is poised to become one of the most significant social transformations of the twenty-first century, with implications for nearly all sectors of society, including labor and financial markets, the demand for goods and services, such as (special) housing, transportation and social protection, as well as family structures and intergenerational ties.
According to data from World Population Prospects: the 2017 Revision, the number of older persons — those aged 60 years or over — is expected to more than double by 2050 and to more than triple by 2100, rising from 962 million globally in 2017 to 2.1 billion in 2050 and 3.1 billion in 2100. Globally, the population aged 60 or over is growing faster than all younger age groups.
In 2017, there are an estimated 962 million people aged 60 or over in the world, comprising 13 percent of the global population. The population aged 60 or above is growing at a rate of about 3 percent per year. Currently, Europe has the greatest percentage of the population aged 60 or over (25 percent). Rapid aging will occur in other parts of the world as well, by 2050 all regions of the world except Africa will have nearly a quarter or more of their populations at ages 60 and above. The number of older persons in the world is projected to be 1.4 billion in 2030 and 2.1 billion in 2050 and could rise to 3.1 billion in 2100.
Globally, the number of persons aged 80 or over is projected to triple by 2050, from 137 million in 2017 to 425 million in 2050. By 2100 it is expected to increase to 909 million, nearly seven times its value in 2017.
Older persons are increasingly seen as contributors to development, whose abilities to act for the betterment of themselves and their societies should be woven into policies and programs at all levels. In the coming decades, many countries are likely to face fiscal and political pressures in relation to public systems of health care, pensions and social protections for a growing older population.
While declining fertility and increasing longevity are the key drivers of population aging globally, international migration has also contributed to changing population age structures in some countries and regions. In countries that are experiencing large immigration flows, international migration can slow the aging process, at least temporarily, since migrants tend to be in the young working ages. However, migrants who remain in the country eventually age into the older population.
To begin addressing these issues, the General Assembly of the United Nations convened the first World Assembly on Ageing in 1982, which produced a 62-point “Vienna International Plan of Action on Ageing.” It called for specific action on such issues as health and nutrition, protecting elderly consumers, housing and environment, family, social welfare, income security and employment, education, and the collection and analysis of research data.
In 1991, the General Assembly adopted the United Nations Principles for Older Persons, enumerating 18 entitlements for older persons — relating to independence, participation, care, self-fulfillment, and dignity. The following year, the International Conference on Ageing met to follow-up on the Plan of Action, adopting a Proclamation on Ageing. Following the Conference’s recommendation, the UN General Assembly declared 1999 the International Year of Older Persons. The International Day of Older Persons is celebrated on 1 October every year.
Action on behalf of the aging continued in 2002 when the Second World Assembly on Ageing was held in Madrid. Aiming to design international policy on aging for the 21st century, it adopted a Political Declaration and the Madrid International Plan of Action on Ageing. The Plan of Action called for changes in attitudes, policies, and practices at all levels to fulfill the enormous potential of aging in the twenty-first century. Its specific recommendations for action give priority to older persons and development, advancing health and well-being into old age, and ensuring enabling and supportive environments.
It’s a fact that the world’s population overall will increase by roughly one-third over the next 40 years, from 6.9 to 9.1 billion, according to the U.N. Population Division. But this will be a very different kind of population growth than ever before — driven not by birth rates, which have gone down fast around the world, but primarily by an increase in the number of elderly people. Indeed, the global population of children under 5 is expected to fall by 49 million as of midcentury, while the number of people over 60 will grow by 1.2 billion. How did the world grow so gray, so quickly?
One reason is that more people are living to advanced old age. But just as significant is the enormous bulge of people born in the first few decades after World War II. The world saw increases in birth rates during the late 1940s and 1950s, as returning veterans made up for lost time. In the 1960s and 1970s, much of the developing world also experienced a baby boom, but for a different reason: striking declines in infant and child mortality. As these global baby boomers age, they create a population explosion of seniors.
Eventually, the effects of the global baby boomers disappear. Then, because of the continuing fall in birth rates, humans face the prospect that numbers fall fast — if not faster — than the rate at which they grew. Russia’s population is already 7 million below what it was in 1991. As for Japan, one expert has calculated that the very last Japanese baby will be born in the year 2959, assuming the country’s low fertility rate of 1.25 children per woman continues unchanged. Young Austrian women now tell pollsters their ideal family size is less than two children, enough to replace themselves but not their partners. Worldwide, there is a 50 percent chance that the population is falling by 2070, according to a recent study published in Nature. By 2150, according to one U.N. projection, the global population could be half what it is today.
Population aging is an increasing median age in the population of a region due to declining fertility rates and/or rising life expectancy. Most countries have rising life expectancy and an aging population (trends that emerged first in More Economically Developed Countries, but which are seen now in Less Economically Developed Countries). This is the case for the most country in the world. The aged population is currently at its highest level in human history. The UN predicts the rate of population aging in the 21st century exceed that of the previous century.
Population aging is a shift in the distribution of a country’s population towards older ages. This is usually reflected in an increase in the population’s mean and median ages, a decline in the proportion of the population composed of children, and a rise in the proportion of the population composed of elderly. The Oxford Institute of Population Ageing concluded that population aging has slowed in Europe and will have the greatest future impact in Asia.
The rate at which the population ages is likely to increase over the next three decades; few countries know whether their older populations are living the extra years of life in good or poor health. A “compression of morbidity” would imply reduced disability in old age, whereas an expansion would see an increase in poor health with increased longevity. Another option has been posted for a situation of “dynamic equilibrium”. This is crucial information for governments if the limits of lifespan continue to increase indefinitely, as some researchers believe it will. The World Health Organization’s suite of household health studies is working to provide the needed health and well-being evidence, including, for example, the World Health Survey, and the Study on Global Ageing and Adult Health (SAGE). These surveys cover 308,000 respondents aged 18+ years and 81,000 aged 50+ years from 70 countries.
The Global Ageing Survey, exploring attitudes, expectations and behaviors towards later life and retirement, directed by George Leeson, and covering 44,000 people aged 40–80 in 24 countries from across the globe has revealed that many people are now fully aware of the ageing of the world’s population and the implications which this have on their lives and the lives of their children and grandchildren.
Most of the developed countries(with the notable exception of the United States) now have sub-replacement fertility levels, and population growth now depends largely on immigration together with population momentum, which arises from previous large generations now enjoying longer life expectancy. Of the roughly 150,000 people who die each day across the globe, about two thirds—100,000 per day—die of age-related causes. In industrialized nations, the proportion is much higher, reaching 90%.