An Aging World: 2008 International Population Reports

  • International

21st July 2009, U.S. Census Bureau

Kevin Kinsella and Wan He

Highlights of the report include:

  • While developed nations have relatively high proportions of people aged 65 and older, the most rapid increases in the older population are in the developing world. The current rate of growth of the older population in developing countries is more than double that in developed countries, and is also double that of the total world population.
  • As of 2008, 62 percent (313 million) of the world’s people aged 65 and older lived in developing countries. By 2040, today’s developing countries are likely to be home to more than 1 billion people aged 65 and over, 76 percent of the projected world total.
  • The oldest old, people aged 80 and older, are the fastest growing portion of the total population in many countries. Globally, the oldest old population is projected to increase 233 percent between 2008 and 2040, compared with 160 percent for the population aged 65 and over and 33 percent for the total population of all ages.
  • The 65-and-older population in China and India alone numbered 166 million in 2008, nearly one-third of the world’s total. Issues related to population aging in the world’s two most populous nations will be accentuated in the coming decades as the absolute number climbs to 551 million in 2040 (329 million in China and 222 million in India).
  • Childlessness among European and U.S. women aged 65 in 2005 ranged from less than 8 percent in the Czech Republic to 15 percent in Austria and Italy. Twenty percent of women aged 40–44 in the United States in 2006 had no biologic children. These data raise questions about the provision of care when this cohort reaches advanced ages.
  • Older people provide support to as well as receive support from their children. In countries with well-established pension and social security programs, many older adults provide shelter and financial assistance to their adult children and grandchildren. Older people in developing countries, although less likely to provide financial help to children, make substantial contributions to family well-being through such activities as household maintenance and grandchild care.