Published on October 10, 2007
The World’s 15 ‘Oldest’ Countries and the U.S.: Sources: Carl Haub, 2006 World Population Data Sheet. The World’s 15 ‘Oldest’ Countries and the U.S. Percent Age 65 or Older Notes on the World’s 15 ‘Oldest’ Countries and the U.S.: Notes on the World’s 15 ‘Oldest’ Countries and the U.S. Except for Japan, the world’s 15 oldest countries are all in Europe. The U.S. population is relatively “young” by European standards, with less than 13 percent age 65 or older, ranking as the 38th oldest country. The aging of the baby-boom generation in the United States will push the proportion of older Americans to 20 percent by 2030; it will still be lower than in most Western European countries. The older share of the population is expected to more than double between 2000 and 2030 in Asia and Latin America and the Caribbean. Aging is occurring more slowly in sub-Saharan Africa, where relatively high birth rates are keeping the population “young.” Speed of Population Aging in Selected Countries: Number of Years for Percent of Population Age 65 or Older to Rise from 7% to 14% * Dates show the span of years when percent of population age 65 or older rose (or is projected to rise) from 7 percent to 14 percent. Source: K. Kinsella and Y.J. Gist, Older Workers, Retirement, and Pensions: A Comparative International Chartbook (1995) and K. Kinsella and D. Phillips, “The Challenge of Global Aging,” Population Bulletin 60, no. 1 (2005). More developed countries Less developed countries Speed of Population Aging in Selected Countries Notes on Speed of Population Aging: Notes on Speed of Population Aging Aging has proceeded more gradually in more developed countries than in less developed countries, affording these nations time to adjust to this structural change. Japan is the major exception, doubling its percent of population age 65 or older in just 26 years. Other countries in East and Southeast Asia (especially China, South Korea, Taiwan, and Thailand) are on a similarly rapid trajectory, fueled by dramatic and relatively recent drops in fertility. Percent Widowed: Source: Compiled by the U.S. Census Bureau from national sources. Australia, 2001 Malaysia, 2000 Croatia, 2000 Percent Widowed Age Age Age Among Older Australians, Malaysians, and Croatians, Circa 2000 Notes on Percent Widowed: Notes on Percent Widowed For both men and women, the proportion married decreases with older age and the proportion widowed increases. In almost every society, older men are more likely to be married and older women are more likely to be widowed. Gender differences in marital status reflect the interplay of several factors, for example, women live longer than men; women tend to marry men older than themselves, which, combined with the sex difference in life expectancy, increases the chance that a woman’s husband will die before she does; and older widowed men have higher remarriage rates than older widowed women in many countries, often as a function of cultural norms. Older Canadians Living Alone, 1961 to 2001: Source: Statistics Canada, national census data. Older Canadians Living Alone, 1961 to 2001 Age 65 or Older In Thousands Notes on Older Canadians Living Alone: Notes on Older Canadians Living Alone In Canada, the increase in the number of older people living alone has largely been fueled by women. This increase reflects several trends: women live longer than men; women tend to marry older men, which, combined with the sex difference in life expectancy, increases the chance that a woman’s husband will die before she does; older widowed men have higher remarriage rates than older widowed women in many countries, often as a function of cultural norms. Older-person-only households (especially unmarried women) are increasingly common. However, the most common “older household” in many Western countries consists of two older people. Living Arrangements of Older Japanese: Living Arrangements of Older Japanese Note: Includes small numbers living in unspecified arrangements Sources: M. Atoh, “Who Takes Care of Children and the Elderly in an Aging Society?” (October 1998); and Japan National Institute of Population and Social Security Research, “Housing With Seniors: 1975-2010” (www.jinjapan.org/insight/html/focus10/page08.html, accessed March 13, 2003). Percent Notes on Living Arrangements of Older Japanese: Notes on Living Arrangements of Older Japanese In Japan, as well as in Hong Kong, China, and Korea, significant numbers of older people live alone and the share living with children is falling rapidly. Multigenerational households have been declining in more developed countries over the past several decades. At one time, living alone was thought to indicate social isolation or family abandonment of older people. However, research in more developed countries consistently shows that older people prefer to reside in their own homes and communities, even if that means living alone. Women and Aging: Women and Aging Projected World Population, by Sex, at Specified Age Groups, 2025 Percent Source: United Nations, World Population Prospects:The 2004 Revision (medium scenario), 2005. Men Women Notes on Women and Aging: Notes on Women and Aging • The figure above depicts what demographers refer to as the feminization of aging. Although women make up half of world population, by the end of the next quarter century, they will account for more than half (54 percent) of people ages 60 and older, and 63 percent of very old people (80 and older). Trends in Aging, by World Region: Trends in Aging, by World Region Population Ages 65 and Older Percent Source: United Nations, World Population Prospects: The 2004 Revision (medium scenario), 2005. Notes on Trends in Aging, by World Region: Notes on Trends in Aging, by World Region • By 2025, over 20 percent of the population in more developed regions will be ages 65 and older. • By 2025, one-tenth of the world’s population will be age 65 or older. • Asia will see the proportion of its elderly population almost double, from about 6 percent in 2000 to 10 percent in 2025. In absolute terms, this represents a stark increase in just 25 years: from about 216 million to about 480 million older people. Aging in China: Percent of Elderly (65+) in China’s Population, 1950-2050 Aging in China Source: World Population Prospects: The 2004 Revision (2005). Notes on Aging in China: Notes on Aging in China Due to vast improvements in health over the past five decades, life expectancy at birth has increased by two-thirds from 40.8 to 71.5 years between 1955 and 2005. The percent of elderly in China is projected to triple from 8 percent to 24 percent between 2006 and 2050. Because chronic health problems become more common in old age, China’s population aging has led to increases in the country’s prevalence of chronic disease and disability. China’s Age Distribution: Population Structures by Age and Sex Millions 1950 2000 Male Female Male Female Age Source: World Population Prospects: The 2004 Revision (2005). China’s Age Distribution 80+ 75-79 70-74 65-69 60-64 55-59 50-54 45-49 40-44 35-39 30-34 25-29 20-24 15-19 10-14 5-9 0-4 Age 2050 Female 80+ 75-79 70-74 65-69 60-64 55-59 50-54 45-49 40-44 35-39 30-34 25-29 20-24 15-19 10-14 5-9 0-4 Male Notes on China’s Age Distribution: Notes on China’s Age Distribution This figure illustrates China’s shrinking young and working-age population and growing elderly population. Dramatic fertility decline (due to the success of the “one-child” policy) and improved longevity over the past two decades are causing China’s population to age at one of the fastest rates ever recorded. China now faces the prospect of having too few children to support its rapidly aging population. Meeting the health and long-term care needs of this growing elderly population will result in soaring health care costs and fewer working-age people to share the burden.