Our world is growing older: UN DESA releases new report on ageing

Our world is rapidly growing older. Today, there are 703 million people aged 65 or older, a number that is projected to reach 1.5 billion by 2050. According to the latest population estimates and projections from UN DESA’s Population Division, 1 in 6 people in the world will be over the age 65 by 2050, up from 1 in 11 in 2019. The latest projections also show that the number of people aged 80 or over will triple in the next 30 years. In many regions, the population aged 65 will double by 2050, while global life expectancy beyond 65 will increase by 19 years.

All countries are in the midst of this “longevity revolution” – some are at its earlier stages, while some are at a more advanced stage. But all will pass through this extraordinary transition, in which the chance of surviving to age 65 rises from less than 50 per cent – as was the case in Sweden in the 1890s – to more than 90 per cent at present in countries with the highest life expectancy. What is more, the proportion of adult life spent beyond age 65 increased from less than one fifth in the 1960s to a quarter or more in some high-income countries today.

Accurate, consistent and timely data on population ageing are critical for setting appropriate policy priorities and for promoting the well-being of the growing number of older persons around the world. This is particularly important in our collective efforts to achieve the Goals and targets of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which pledges to leave no one behind.

Drawing on the latest United Nations population estimates and projections, World Population Ageing 2019 Highlights released today provides global trends and indicators on population ageing. The Highlights also discusses different measures of population ageing.

The new report confirms that the world’s older population is growing in both absolute and relative terms with the highest growth rates experienced in Eastern and South-Eastern Asia and in Latin America and the Caribbean. Conventional old-age dependency ratios show that populations are rapidly grower older. However, newer measures, which take into account rising life-expectancy, point toward a slower ageing process. Women live, on average, 4.8 years longer than men. However, this age gap is expected to narrow in the coming years.

Access the World Population Ageing 2019: Highlights by UN DESA’s Population Division here.

Photo: UN Photo/Grunzweig

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