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NEW DELHI: A new UN report calls for urgent policy measures to enable healthy ageing as it highlights that the number of people aged 65 years or older worldwide is projected to more than double, rising from 761 million in 2021 to 1.6 billion in 2050. By the end of the 21st century, the world could have nearly 2.5 billion older people.
In 2021, one in 10 people worldwide were aged 65 or above. In 2050, this age group is projected to account for one in six people globally. It is projected that from 2021 to 2050, the population aged 65 or over in Eastern and South-Eastern Asia and in Central and Southern Asia is projected to grow by more than 540 million, accounting for more than 60% of the global increase.
The ‘World Social Report 2023: Leaving No One Behind In An Ageing World’ also highlights that globally, the number of people aged 80 years or over is rising even faster than those aged 65 or above. By 2050, the world will have an estimated 459 million persons aged 80 or more, almost triple the number in 2021 at around 155 million.
The report states that population ageing is a defining global trend of our time. Globally, a baby born in 2021 could expect to live, on average, almost 25 years more than a newborn from 1950, reaching 71 years, with women outliving men by an average of five years.
Among regions, Northern Africa and Western Asia and sub-Saharan Africa are expected to experience the fastest growth in the number of older people over the next three decades. Today, Europe and Northern America combined have the highest share of older persons.
Noting that population ageing is an irreversible global trend, the report published by the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs states “as fertility levels fall, the share of younger people declines, while the share of working-age adults and, eventually, older people go up. Further population ageing is driven by more people living longer, healthier lives.” According to the report, improvements in health and medical therapies, greater access to education and reductions in fertility have driven this transformation. However, it is highlighted that not everyone has benefited equally from the improvements in health and education that have driven population ageing.
Amidst escalating pension and healthcare costs, the UN report emphasises that reaping benefits of population ageing begins with promoting equal opportunities from birth. Additionally, public spending in most countries has not been sufficient to cover the growing demand for long-term care.
Highlighting that the demand for long-term care is rising due to populations ageing, the report notes with concern that despite the Covid-19 crisis exposing weaknesses in long-term care, yet this aspect continues to receive insufficient policy attention.
The report calls for rethinking social protection systems, including pension schemes as necessary. “Ensuring economic security and health for all in old age calls for promoting equal opportunity from birth, including through universal access to healthcare and education as well as opportunities for decent work. Decades of wage stagnation are jeopardising people’s ability to save enough to support themselves in older ages,” the report notes.




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