Health and Healthcare Systems

These animations show the Western world is rapidly ageing 

Seniors relax by the sea in Andernos, Southwestern France, June 23, 2010. French unions will stage nationwide protests against government pension reforms on June 24, 2010. France's government, looking to tame a record debt and public deficit, presented its long-awaited proposals for pension reform, featuring an increase in the retirement age to 62 from 60 by 2018.  REUTERS/Regis Duvignau (FRANCE - Tags: EMPLOYMENT BUSINESS POLITICS SOCIETY)

An ageing population would cause many issues for the West in the future Image: REUTERS/Regis Duvignau

Jeff Desjardins
Founder and editor, Visual Capitalist
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From issues such as declining fertility rates to the ongoing complications resulting from China’s famous “One Child Policy”, there are many demographic challenges that the world must grapple with in the coming years.

However, one problem of particular importance – at least in places like Europe and the Americas – is a rapidly aging population. As the population shifts grayer, potential consequences include higher dependency ratios, rising healthcare costs, and shifting economies and cities.

Europe: a prime example

We’ve discussed Germany’s demographic cliff before, but it’s not only Germany that will be impacted by a rapidly ageing population.

Image: Visual Capitalist

The above animation from data visualization expert Aron Strandberg shows the median age of European countries between 1960 and 2060.

Starting about a decade from now, you can see that the U.N. projects some European countries to start hitting a median age of 50 or higher. This includes countries like Spain, Italy, Portugal, and Greece, and then later Germany, Poland, Bosnia, and Croatia.

The UK, France, Ireland, Scandinavia, and former Soviet countries will be younger – but only slightly so. Median ages in these places by 2060 will be in the early to mid-forties.

The Americas

Populations in North and South America are also graying fast, though not quite at Europe’s pace.

Here’s a similar map of the Americas that highlights median age between 1960 and 2060, based on U.N. projections.

Image: Visual Capitalist

Chile and Brazil, in particular, are trending older. Meanwhile, Canada is not far behind with an expected median age of 45 in 2060. Interestingly, the United States is anticipated to only hit a median age of 42 by 2060, which is lower than almost all Western countries.

While this makes the U.S. look younger in comparison, the country will still experience the same type of economic burden from an aging population. In fact, it’s expected that the population of Americans older than 65 years will nearly double from 48 million to 88 million over the coming three decades.

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Related topics:
Health and Healthcare SystemsGeographies in Depth
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