Ageing populations: the challenges ahead

  • UK

3rd October 2009, The Lancet

Prof Kaare Christensen MD a , Prof Gabriele Doblhammer PhD b, Roland Rau PhD b, Prof James W Vaupel PhD c

The Lancet, Vol. 374 No. 9696 pp 1196-1208

If the pace of increase in life expectancy in developed countries over the past two centuries continues through the 21st century, most babies born since 2000 in France, Germany, Italy, the UK, the USA, Canada, Japan, and other countries with long life expectancies will celebrate their 100th birthdays. Although trends differ between countries, populations of nearly all such countries are ageing as a result of low fertility, low immigration, and long lives. A key question is: are increases in life expectancy accompanied by a concurrent postponement of functional limitations and disability? The answer is still open, but research suggests that ageing processes are modifiable and that people are living longer without severe disability.

a Danish Ageing Research Centre, University of Southern Denmark, Odense, Denmark b University of Rostock, Rostock, Germany c Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany Correspondence to: Prof Kaare Christensen, Danish Ageing Research Centre, University of Southern Denmark, 5000 Odense C, Denmark