Global Agenda Council on Ageing 2012-2013
The rapid ageing of humanity is perhaps the most salient and dynamic aspect of modern demography, and its influence on public health and national economies will be dramatic. The world experienced only a modest increase in the number of people aged 60 and over during the past six decades: from 8% to 10%. But in the next 40 years this group is expected to rise to 22% of the population, from 800 million to 2 billion people.
While the ageing trend began in the developed world, it is now a global phenomenon, and it is accelerating particularly in the developing world. In industrial countries, the number of people over 60 has risen from 12% in 1950 to 22% today, and is expected to reach 32% (418 million) by 2050. In developing countries, populations over 60 have risen from 6% in 1950 to 9% today and are expected to reach 20% (1.6 billion) by 2050. This rapid pace means developing nations will have less time to establish the infrastructure and policies required to meet the needs of their shifting demographics. It also means that, unlike developed countries, people will need to cope with getting old before they become financially stable.
Another reason for an emphasis on ageing today is that doomsday scenarios abound. These alarmist views typically assume a world of static policy and institutions, continuing trends involving low fertility, and constant age-specific behaviour and labour outcomes. The resulting scenarios yield stark and shocking images of workforce shortages, asset market meltdowns, economic growth slowdowns, the financial collapse of pension and healthcare systems, and mass loneliness and insecurity. While these scenarios are frightening, the positive aspects of an ageing society should be viewed as well.
- Globally, the number of those 60-plus has risen from only 8% of the world population (200 million people) in 1950 to about 11% (760 million) in 2011, with a dramatic increase still ahead as those 60-plus are expected to reach 22% (2 billion) by 2050.
- The global population is projected to increase 3.7 times from 1950 to 2050, but the number of 60-plus will increase by a factor of nearly 10, and the 80-plus by a factor of 26.2
- Between 2010 and 2050, the total population will increase by 2 billion, while the older population will increase by 1.3 billion.3
“The good news is that, if we act now in a creative and proactive manner, we will have the greatest chance of realizing the potential benefits of the ageing trend, such as utilizing the immense social capital of older people, while avoiding its perils.”
Klaus Schwab, Founder and Executive Chairman, World Economic Forum
The ideas and actions revealed in the book Global Population Ageing: Peril or Promise? will continue to underpin and inform the Council’s work. In the coming year, the Council will focus on seeing how some of these recommendations can be implemented in specific countries.
Tales of doom and gloom often accompany the success stories of population ageing and longer lives but, as this report demonstrates, the Council has taken a more proactive stance. Although global ageing presents serious challenges, enormous opportunities can also be seized. Decision-makers must confront the changed landscape with new frameworks and innovations in technology, education and policy.
The goal of the Council’s is to ensure these challenges are understood and tackled. In the process, society must make sure that generations reaching older age are allowed to experience and express their full potential.
The Council also wants to look at developing an Ageing Preparedness Index to help countries identify what is needed to become Age-Friendly Countries (this could be prepared in coordination with Standard & Poor’s). Additionally, the Council will work with the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), which will lead a global consultation around population dynamics for the post-Millennium Development Agenda (MDG).
Council Manager: Patrick McGee, Knowledge Manager, Global Agenda Councils, email@example.com
Forum Lead: Martina Gmür, Senior Director, Head of the Network of Global Agenda Councils, firstname.lastname@example.org