In a rapidly ageing world, how can the EU address the age-blindness in its development cooperation?
Population ageing can be described as the world’s most significant social, political and economic development that will dramatically alter the way that societies and economies function.By Ellen Graham, EU Policy Advisor, HelpAge International
At the EU level, the challenges presented by population ageing are already acknowledged in economic and social development frameworks, such as the Europe 2020 strategy. However, ageing continues to be overlooked in EU development policies and programmes. Unsupported ageing must be acknowledged as a driver of increasing inequality and a barrier to achieving the Millennium Development Goals. As the world’s biggest aid donor with the core development objective of reducing poverty, the EU has a responsibility to take action to address this.
While population growth is mentioned in the EU Development Commissioner’s Agenda for Change development policy published in October 2011, ageing is notably absent. There is a danger that an over-emphasis on population growth and youth obscures the broader picture of population dynamics that are most dramatic in the ageing of populations. In fact, the rate of global population growth has been decelerating for a number of years and will reach almost zero by 2050. By this time, the number of people aged over 60 will double to reach 2 billion, outnumbering children below the age of 14. 80 per cent of these older people will live in developing countries. As their current youth bulges shift into older age groups, developing countries will experience ageing at unprecedented rates and this will occur alongside their development. In contrast to the experience of developed countries, developing countries will get old before they get rich.