Latest reports from the United States Census Bureau describe a world marching slowly, but surely to an aged population. The world is soon to cross a demographic landmark of tremendous social and economic importance when the proportion of the global population aged 65 and over outnumbers children under the age of 5. The report, “An Aging World: 2008″ claims within ten years older people will constitute a larger number than children under the age of five. Over the coming thirty years the number of those over the age of 65 will double from 506 million to about 1.3 billion, a leap from constituting 7% of the population to 14%. Each month those who are 65 and over increase by 875,000.
Europe is the oldest area of the world and contains 23 of the 25 world’s oldest populations. Japan tops the list with a life expectancy of about 85 while Zimbabwe is the reverse with the lowest life expectancy of 40 due to the corrupt and incompetent government of President Mugabe. The economic and social implications for this change are dramatic, but few, if any, governments are even contemplating changes that must be made. For example, life expectancy for French men and women after 65 is now close to 20 years. Around half of women 65 and over in Denmark, Germany, and Slovakia are on their own.
It is time for the UN to begin a world wide focus on implications for the aging world.