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The World — Coming of Age

Can countries sustain an ever growing number of old people for much longer?

February 12, 2001

Can countries sustain an ever growing number of old people for much longer?

We’ve all heard that the world is aging. But what is surprising is that this is happening not just in the industrialized world, but in developing countries as well. Our Globalist Factsheet examines how the age structure of the world’s population will change in the coming decades.

How will an aging population change the face of Japan?

Back in 1980, Japan still had the youngest population in the developed world. By 2005, it will have the oldest. And by 2007, its population as a whole will begin to decrease. (Peterson: Gray Dawn)

What about China?

By 2050, the number of Chinese aged 65 and over is projected to reach 330 million people. As recently as 1990, that number was equal to the total elderly population of the entire world. (Peterson: Gray Dawn)

What major Asian country is less affected?

47% of India’s population of one billion is under the age of 20. (Business Week)

How will aging affect the West?

By 2025, Germany, Italy, Spain, Sweden and the Netherlands will all have populations where at least one-third of the people is over 60 years old. (Economist)

Which industrialized countries are aging at a slower pace?

The populations in Great Britain, France and the United States will consist of more than one-fifth of people over the age of 60 by 2025. (Economist)

How will the global population change in the next 30 years?

In 1990, almost 500 million people — or slightly more than 9% of the world’s population — were over 60 years old. By 2030, that number will have tripled to 1.4 billion, about 17% of the world’s population. (Financial Times)

Where is the workforce of the future coming from?

Between 1999 and 2010, 700 million young adults will enter the job markets of developing countries. That is a workforce almost three times the size of the current U.S. population. (Le Monde)

Can you give me a specific example?

Of Mexico’s current population of 100 million people, 60 million — two-thirds — are under 30 years of age. One-third of the population is under the age of 15. (Washington Post)

By the way, what is the “dependency ratio?”

The “dependency ratio” compares the size of a nation’s population that is aged 65 and older to that nation’s group of 15 to 64 year-olds.

What is the ratio in Europe?

In the European Union, the dependency rato is expected to rise from 21% in 1990 to 43% in the year 2040. That means almost half the nation will be in or near retirement. (Financial Times)

What is the main challenge for the United States?

Between 1990 and 2030, the number of Americans over 65 will double, but the country’s working-age population will only grow by 25%. (New York Times)