|Rate of Global Aging Increasing|
Every month, the world's population of persons age 65 and older grows by 800,000 individuals according to a report by the U.S. Census Bureau and the National Institute on Aging (NIA).
In An Aging World: 2001, researchers report that developing countries tend to age faster than established ones. Demographers estimated that more than three-quarters of the world's net gain of older people from 1999 to 2000 occurred in still-developing countries.
Among countries reporting high proportions of people 65 and older, the United States ranks 32nd. Italy currently nudges out Sweden in housing the world's oldest population, with 18 percent of Italian having celebrated their 65th birthday, according to the report.
"Global aging is occurring at a rate never seen before and we will need to pay close attention to how countries respond to the challenges and opportunities of growing older," said Nancy Gordon, the Census Bureau's associate director for demographic programs. "In the United States, one of the comparatively younger developed countries, with 13 percent of its people age 65 and older, we may be able to learn from the experience of 'older' countries."
"Population aging is a fundamental transformation of human society," said Richard M. Suzman, associate director of the NIA Behavioral and Social Research Program. "Many governments and international agencies, as well as demographic researchers, have only recently begun to pay attention to this increasingly important trend."
Aging populations typically occur when a country's birth and adult death rates decrease. Of the countries covered in this report, Japan had the highest average life expectancy at birth 81 years, followed by Singapore (80) and several other developed countries: Australia, Canada, Italy, Iceland, Sweden and Switzerland (79). Levels for the United States and most other developed countries fall in the 76- to 78-year range.
Other interesting statistics from An Aging World: 2001 include:
There were more older women than older men in the vast majority of the world's countries; notable exceptions were India, Iran and Bangladesh.
Of the 227 countries or areas of the world with at least 5,000 population, 167 (74 percent) had some form of an old-age disability or survivors' program in the late 1990s, compared with 33 in 1940.
In the mid 1990s, public pensions absorbed 15 percent of the gross domestic product in Italy and Uruguay; 7.2 percent in the United States and 0.4 percent in Mexico.
Disability rates among the older population were declining in developed countries but were likely to increase in developing countries.
Older people in the United States were more educated than in most other countries, but educational attainment of the older population was projected to increase in most countries over the next several decades.
In many countries, persons 80 and above were the fastest-growing component of the population.
More than one-third of the world's oldest people (80 and above) lived in three countries: China (11.5 million), the United States (9.2 million) and India (6.2 million).