‘Population of older adults increasing globally’

The world population is projected to reach 9.9 billion by 2050, an increase of more than 25 percent from this year. Older adults, aged 65 and older, now account for 9 percent of the global population, in part because of declining fertility rates, the Population Reference Bureau (PRB) has found.

In India, currently the population share of those who are 65+ and above is just 6 percent in mid-2020, which is why India is counted among the ‘young countries’ in the world.

In its 2020 World Population Data Sheet, PRB found that in 91 countries and territories — nearly 45 percent of the world’s population — total fertility rates are below replacement level, i.e. the average number of children at which a population exactly replaces itself from one generation to the next in the absence of migration. What this means is that the population is expected to fall in these countries.

“This trend is most pronounced in Europe and East Asia. In contrast, many countries in sub-Saharan Africa and some in Asia continue to experience rapid population growth and high fertility rates. The population of 25 countries is expected to at least double between 2020 and 2050,” said PRB.

PRB data also shows that women’s life expectancy at birth is highest in Hong Kong (88) and lowest in Central African Republic (55). Life expectancy at birth for men is highest in Australia (83) and lowest in Central African Republic and Lesotho (51). For India, women’s life expectancy is 68 years for males and 70 for females.

With 35 percent of its population living in urban spaces, India’s total fertility rate is 2.2 – lower than the global total fertility rate (2.3 births per woman), but higher than the replacement level (2.1 births per woman). When applied to a large population like India’s, these figures can result in large-scale population increases at the macro level. It is projected that India’s population will rise to a whopping 1,663 million or 166.3 crores in another 30 years!

To put things in context, Niger has the highest total fertility rate (7.1 average births for each woman), followed by Mali (6.3) and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (6.2).

Some of the lowest total fertility rates are in South Korea (0.9), Taiwan (1.0) and Singapore (1.1) – which means their population will fall significantly over years.

“As the experience with the Covid-19 pandemic has shown us, population changes such as aging and rapid urbanization are important factors for countries to consider as they plan for future disease outbreaks, long-term health care needs and other developments,” said Jeff Jordan, PRB president and CEO.

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