Thursday, 14 January 2010

UN: Population ageing is unprecedented, pervasive, profound, enduring

Summary of Findings

1. Population ageing is unprecedented, a process without parallel in the history
of humanity. A population ages when increases in the proportion of older persons
(that is, those aged 60 years or over) are accompanied by reductions in the proportion of children (persons under age 15) and then by declines in the proportions of persons in the working ages (15 to 59). At the world level, the number of older persons is expected to exceed the number of children for the first time in 2045. In the more developed regions, where population ageing is far advanced, the number of children dropped below that of older persons in 1998.

2. Population ageing is pervasive since it is affecting nearly all the countries of
the world. Population ageing results mainly from reductions of fertility that have
become virtually universal. The resulting slowdown in the growth of the number of
children coupled with the steady increase in the number of older persons has a direct
bearing on both the intergenerational and intragenerational equity and solidarity that are the foundations of society.

3. Population ageing is profound, having major consequences and implications
for all facets of human life. In the economic area, population ageing will have an
impact on economic growth, savings, investment, consumption, labour markets,
pensions, taxation and intergenerational transfers. In the social sphere, population
ageing influences family composition and living arrangements, housing demand,
migration trends, epidemiology and the need for healthcare services. In the political
arena, population ageing may shape voting patterns and political representation.

4. Population ageing is enduring. Since 1950, the proportion of older persons
has been rising steadily, passing from 8 per cent in 1950 to 11 per cent in 2009, and
is expected to reach 22 per cent in 2050 (figure I). As long as old-age mortality
continues to decline and fertility remains low, the proportion of older persons will
continue to increase.

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