‘Major’ rise in world’s elderly population: DESA report
28 January 2010, New York
The elderly will outnumber children for the first time in 2045, according to a new DESA report.
The World Population Ageing 2009 report recently published by DESA’s Population Division, found that by the middle of this century those aged 60 and over will make up 22 per cent of the world’s population.
This compares to 11 per cent in 2009 and 8 per cent in 1950.
The report said that the effects of this demographic shift will be “profound… [with] major consequences and implications for all facets of human life”.
“In the economic area, population ageing will have an impact on economic growth, savings, consumption, labour markets, pensions, and intergenerational transfers,” it said.
“In the social sphere, population ageing influences family composition and living arrangements, housing demand, epidemiology and the need for healthcare services.”
“In the political arena, population ageing may shape voting patterns and political representation.”
Chief of the Division’s Population and Development Section Jorge Bravo said that the observed rise in the world’s elderly population was the result of two factors.
“[The first factor is] the large size of the cohorts born around the middle of the 20th century including the ‘baby-boomers’ in the U.S. and other industrialized countries, and the second [factor] is the persistent improvements in survivorship in most countries and all major regions of the world,” Mr. Bravo said.
“The report shows that total fertility in the world in the early 1950s was nearly five births per women, while it has fallen to less than half of that value at present, and is projected to approach the replacement-level of 2.1 children per women in just a few more decades.”
He said that the progress in longevity around the world had been “impressive”, with the global life expectancy average increasing from 47 years in 1950-1955 to 68 years in 2005-2010.
Mr. Bravo said that the population change will have positive outcomes including the overlapping of several generations and a greater potential for interaction between children and their grand-parents and great-grand parents.
However, he said that ageing societies needed to implement measures to ensure the financial sustainability of pension and health systems “so that they can provide adequate social protection for the current and future generations of workers”.
“The coverage of social security is still low in most developing countries, and efforts to expand it are needed as the world economy emerges from the current financial and economic crisis,” he said.
Buy or download The World Population Ageing 2009 report