Economic and social implications of aging societies

31 October 2014

Professor Sarah Harper, Co-Director, Oxford Institute of Population Ageing, Science 31 October 2014: Vol. 346 no. 6209 pp. 587-591 DOI: 10.1126/science.1254405

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The challenge of global population aging has been brought into sharper focus by the financial crisis of 2008. In particular, growing national debt has drawn government attention to two apparently conflicting priorities: the need to sustain public spending on pensions and health care versus the need to reduce budget deficits. A number of countries are consequently reconsidering their pension and health care provisions, which account for up to 40% of all government spending in advanced economies. Yet population aging is a global phenomenon that will continue to affect all regions of the world. By 2050 there will be the same number of old as young in the world, with 2 billion people aged 60 or over and another 2 billion under age 15, each group accounting for 21% of the world’s population.