January 14, 2010

WORLD: Unprecedented aging reported by UN agency

. NEW YORK, NY / United Nations / Population Division / January 14, 2010 The United Nations Population Division has announced the publication online of World population Ageing 2009. This new edition of World Population Ageing is the third in a series. It updates the 2007 edition, provides a description of global trends in population ageing and includes a series of indicators of the ageing process by development regions, major areas, regions and countries. This new edition includes new features on ageing in rural and urban areas, the coverage of pension systems and the impact of the 2007-2008 financial crisis on pension systems. The report is intended to provide a solid demographic foundation for the follow-up activities of the Second World Assembly on Ageing. World Population Ageing 2009 can be downloaded free of charge from the United Nations Population Division website http://unpopulation.org The contents of this report underscore four major 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. [rc]