Press Releases

27 September 2007

Fact sheet on ageing

  • World populations are ageing at an accelerated pace. The median age is projected to rise from its current 28 years to 38 years by 2050.
  • Currently, some 10 per cent of world population is aged 60 years or above, and it is estimated that by 2050 more than one in five persons (22 per cent) will be in this age group.
  • In 2005, there were 672 million older persons. By 2050 the figure will have nearly tripled to about 2 billion.
  • Overall world population is growing at a rate of 1.2 per cent annually, whereas the population of older persons is now growing at 2 per cent per year, and will grow at 3.1 per cent annually in 2010 - 2015.
  • The fastest growing group is those over 80 years or older, the growth rate being 4.2 per cent annually.
  • Older women continue to outnumber older men. In 2005, there were 67 million more women than men over the age of 60, and the gender gap widens with age.
  • Regionally, in Asia, Latin America, North America and Oceania, differences in ageing will have largely disappeared by 2050. The share of people over 60 will range from 23.6 per cent in Asia to 27 per cent in North America.
  • In Africa, 10 per cent of the population will be over 60 by 2050; in Europe, 34.5 per cent.
  • Currently, 1 in 20 Africans (5.2 per cent) is aged 60 or over, whereas in Europe one in five is in that age group.
  • The old-age dependency ratio (the ratio of older persons per 100 adults of working age) could double in 50 years in some developing countries, whereas it took 150 to 200 years for it to double in developed countries.
  • In 2000 - 2005, life expectancy at birth ranged from 49.1 years in Africa to 77.6 years in North America.
  • However, the gap is expected to close significantly: projections for 2045 - 2050 show life expectancy figures rising to 65.4 years in Africa and 82.7 years in North America.
  • In 2005, the average labour-force participation rate for men aged 55 - 64 was 53 per cent in Europe. The global average was 74 per cent. Labour-force participation rates fall dramatically for those aged 65 or over.
  • Regional variations are great. For European men over 65, the participation rate is about 8 per cent; in Africa, Asia and Latin America, it is 57, 37 and 38 per cent, respectively.
  • There are also great regional differences for women, with participation rates ranging from 4 per cent in Europe to 26 per cent in Africa.


Source:  Report of the United Nations Secretary-General "Major developments in the area of ageing since the Second World Assembly on Ageing", E/CN.5/2007/7, 21 November 2006.



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