Proportion of elderly in world population projected to grow sharply - UN expert

Proportion of elderly in world population projected to grow sharply - UN expert

The proportion of the world’s elderly people is projected to grow sharply in the coming years, with significant economic and social implications, a United Nations population expert said today.

“The tempo of the increasing age is faster, and it’s becoming more pervasive,” Joseph Chamie, the Director of the UN Population Division, told reporters at a briefing in New York. “Many developing countries are going through this process, and the consequences becoming much more evident,” he added, unveiling a new wall chart produced by the Division to illustrate the trend.

Mr. Chamie hailed the ageing of the global population, saying it signified progress because it was based on declining fertility, declining mortality and increasing longevity. “This is great news, because we are getting greater and improved control over birth and death,” he said, calling the world’s reduction in death rates “the single greatest achievement of humanity.”

The trend of ageing populations – “unprecedented in human history” – was widespread, affecting all populations, and held profound economic and social implications. “We will see increasingly the impact of this, especially when it comes to such things as elections and economic policies, because one of the key concerns of every individual is how they will finance their retirement when they become grey,” he said.

Mr. Chamie also predicted that the global population would continue to age in the coming years. “We will see this trend accelerating in the twenty-first century,” he said, noting that currently 10 per cent of all people were aged 60 or above, while by mid-century that figure was expected to climb to 21 per cent.