Aging- Global Population Pyramid

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  • Aging in Other Countriesand Across Cultures in theUnited States






    Global Trends

    The rapid pace of economic development inmost countries has resulted in shifts from ruralagricultural societies to more urbanized indus-trial landscapes with accompanying changes insocial and family structures, improved life ex-pectancy, and more people living into advancedold age. However, in many regions of the worldwhere young adults must migrate to cities forjob opportunities, older adults are left behindwithout family members living nearby. Thesechanges in intergenerational contact are com-pounded when adult children immigrate toother countries for better job and educationalopportunities. In this chapter, we explore theimpact of global aging, where increased popula-tions of older persons combine with the cultural


    This chapter describes the phenomenon of global aging, including

    The increasing population of older adultsin both industrialized, and developing,countries

    The impact of demographic shifts onemployment and retirement patterns inother countries

    How modernization has affected elders rolesin traditional societies

    The impact of modernization on filial piety Challenges faced by older immigrants in the

    United States

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    changes and economic patterns that disrupt tra-ditional family and social structures.

    The Phenomenon of Global Aging

    All world regions are experiencing an increase inthe absolute and relative size of their older popula-tions, but tremendous variation will occur in agingpatterns across countries and regions (Hayutin,2007). Global aging is occurring for two majorreasons: More people are living longer and fertilityrates have declined in many regions of the world.The United Nations definition of population agingis the rapid growth of the population age 60 andolder. This age group is expected to grow by morethan 50 percent in the developed nations between2009 and 2050 (from 264 million to 416 million).The projected increase for those age 60 and older iseven higher for developing nations475 millionin 2009 to 1.6 billion in 2050, when about 80 per-cent of the worlds older adults will be living in de-veloping countries (United Nations 2008; 2009).This parallels the fact that all world populationgrowth is taking place in the developing countriesand is likely to continue to do so (Bloom &Canning, 2007). The growth rate for those age 80and older is higher than for the general population


    Global aging is among the most pivotal changesof our time. Stark demographic differences amongnations will significantly shape almost every aspectof national and international life. Demographicsaffect growth rates, intergenerational distributionof income, the structure of markets, the balance ofsavings and consumption, and many other economicvariables. Socially, the world will change as well, asfamilies come to have three, four, sometimes evenfive generations alive at one time. Internationalrelations, too, will change as some countries growand others shrink. The stakes are high.

    SOURCE: George P. Shultz, Stanford Center on Longevity,March 2007. (from the preface of a report by the StandfordCenter on Longevity, How Population Aging Differs AcrossCountries: A Briefing on Global Demographics on page 6.)

    age 60 and older: 3.9 percent per year worldwide,3.3 percent in the most developed countries, and3.8 percent in the least developed. As a result, thepopulation age 65 and older will increase from 5.5percent of the total population of less-developedcountries in 2005 to 14.6 percent in 2050. Thecomparable figures for more developed countriesare 15.3 percent and 25.9 percent, respectively.The number of persons age 65 or older in theworld is expected to expand from an estimated495 million in 2009 to 974 million in 2030. Thiswill result in a world population in which 12 per-cent will be 65 years of age or older by the year2030, compared with 7 percent today (He et al.,2005; United Nations, 2007; 2009).

    As seen in the projections for populationgrowth in the United States, described in Chapter 1,the global age distribution will change from a pyra-mid to a cylindrical form (Figure 2.1). This is due toa reduction in fertility rates worldwide, even in theless-developed countries of Africa and SouthAmerica. In fact, for the 49 least developed coun-tries, fertility rates are projected to drop from thecurrent 4.39 children per woman to 2.41 by 2050(United Nations, 2009). It is estimated that 120countries will reach total fertility rates below re-placement levels (i.e., 2.1 children per woman) by2025, compared to 22 countries in 1975 and 70 in2000 (WHO, 2002). The situation is particularlycritical in Japan, where the fertility rate in 2006was 1.25 children per woman. Low fertility ratescombined with increased life expectancy in moredeveloped countries have created what is called ademographic divide and resultant conflicts overhow to address labor force shortages while provid-ing employment to younger workers, possibly bychanges in these countries retirement policies(Bloom & Canning, 2007).

    Life expectancy and the current numbers andexpected growth of the older population differsubstantially between industrialized and develop-ing countries. Currently, 60 percent of older adultslive in developing countries, which may increase to75 percent by 2020. For example, in 2008, thepopulation age 65 and older for Western andSouthern European countries was 18 percent.Japan has the highest proportion of elders in the

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  • 350,000 150,000 0Population in thousands

    150,000 350,000009









    Age group

    Male Female

    2002 2025


    FIGURE 2.1 Global Population Pyramid in 2002 and 2025SOURCE: World Health Organization, Active ageing: A policy framework. WHO, 2002. Reprinted by permission of the World Health Organization.

    world (22 percent), followed by Italy (20 percent).Other developed countries with high proportionsare Germany and Greece (19 percent) and Sweden(18 percent) (Population Reference Bureau,2008a).

    A major reason for such large proportions isincreased life expectancy beyond age 65 in devel-oped countries, as illustrated in Table 2.1 bycomparisons of different world regions and some


    Japan is experiencing the most rapid rate of popula-tion aging in the world. In 1970, 7 percent of itspopulation was 65 or older, but this increased to22 percent in 2008. This group could make up 40 percent of Japans population by 2050. Evenmore striking is the prediction that 7.2 percent willbe age 80 and older in 2020, compared with 4.1 per-cent in the United States. By 2050, Japan is expectedto have one million people age 100 and older.Baby boomers in Japan account for approximately8.6 percent of the workforce, so their retirement willbe a blow to Japans economy at a time when theoverall labor force is shrinking and fewer workers areavailable to pay into a pension system. Nevertheless,politicians and Japanese society in general resistimmigration as a way to increase the number of youngworkers contributing to the economic support ofretirees. Reports by the United Nations and demogra-phers project a need for 13 million to 17 million newimmigrants by 2050 in order to prevent the collapseof Japans pension system. Yet in the past 25 years,only one million foreigners have been accepted asimmigrants in this insular country.SOURCE: AARP, 2006; Bloom and Canning, 2007; PopulationReference Bureau, 2008b.

    TABLE 2.1 Life Expectancy at Birth of WorldRegions and Some Countries


    World 68 67 70More-developed 77 74 81Least-developed 55 53 56Sub-Saharan Africa 50 49 51

    W. Europe 80 77 83S. Europe 79 76 82N. Europe 79 76 81

    Japan 82 79 86Canada 80 78 83U.S. 78 75 81

    SOURCE: Population Reference Bureau, 2008b.

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    FIGURE 2.2 Life Expectancy at Age 65: United States and JapanSOURCE: United Nations, 2007a.







    1970 2007


    s re





    countries and by life expectancy trends in theUnited States and Japan (Figure 2.2). In less than40 years, the U.S. and especially Japan have madegreat strides in keeping people alive into advancedold age. In particular, Japanese men and womenhave gained considerable advantage since 1970almost five years for men and an additional sevenyears for women beyond (NCHS, 2005). In con-trast, sub-Saharan, Western, Eastern, and MiddleAfrican countries had only 3 percent of their pop-ulation age 65 and older (Population ReferenceBureau, 2008a). Overall, extreme societal agingwill likely occur in Europe and a few Asian coun-tries for the next few decades, while the develop-ing world will remain comparatively young,intensifying the demographic divide. But this willshift by 2050, when developing countries will beas old as the developed countries are today, ascaptured changes in their median ages, discussedbelow (Hayutin, 2007).

    The median age (the age at which half thepopulation is younger and half is older, describedin Chapter 1), of these regions also varies but isincreasing in all countries:

    29 worldwide 44.2 in Japan 40 in Western Europe 36.7 in the United States 20 in Latin America (United Nations, 2009)