Handbooks of Research on Public Policy series
Chapter 3: Drivers of demographic change in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries
The population ageing experienced in the more developed countries of the world in the twentieth century – and particularly the latter half of that century – is unprecedented in the demographic history of mankind, and furthermore the trend is expected to continue well into the twenty-first century. In global terms, only 8 per cent of the population, corresponding to 204 million persons, was aged 60 years and over in 1950. This had increased to just 10 per cent (but 609 million persons) by the end of the twentieth century, and, more importantly, is expected to increase to 22 per cent and more than 2 billion persons by the year 2050 (United Nations 2011), by which time the number of people aged over 60 years will outnumber persons aged under 15 years globally. In other words, growth in the population aged 60 years and over is not just dramatic in absolute terms; it is also fast. While the global population growth rate is expected to decline from around 1 per cent per annum to less than 0.5 per cent by the middle of the century, growth rates for the global population aged 60 years and over are expected to be around 2–3 per cent.
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