Our ageing world: UN predicts there will be more pensioners than children by 2050The number of people over 60 set to hit two billion by 2050Over-60s will outnumber under-15s in 40 years, according to reportNations urged to prepare for greater strain on healthcare and pensionsPopulation ageing fastest in developing countries
03:21 GMT, 2 October 2012
A startling UN report into global ageing has revealed that there will be more pensioners than children by 2050, when the number of people aged 60 or over will hit two billion.
Today's report, called Ageing in the 21st Century: a celebration and a challenge, also revealed that the number of centenarians will rise nearly tenfold from 316,000 today to three million in 2050.
Ban Ki-moon, the UN secretary general,
said older people bring significant benefits to society, but warned that
a spiralling population will spark major challenges for nations in
areas like healthcare and pensions.
An ageing world: The percentage of elderly people will increase as life expectancy grows
Rapid ageing: Projected percentage of people aged over 60 in 2050 by country
He added: 'Population ageing can no longer be ignored. Globally, the proportion of older persons is growing at a faster rate than the general population.
'This reflects tremendous and welcome advances in health and overall quality of life in societies across the world.
'But the social and economic implications of this phenomenon are profound, extending far beyond the individual older person and the immediate family, touching broader society and the global community in unprecedented ways.'
Spike: This graph shows how the over-60s will outnumber children by 2015.
Other findings in the report include that the number of older persons will surpass one billion people in just 10 years, an increase of close to 200 million people.
The projected rise is down to medical advances, increased rights for older people and rising economic prosperity, but the report calls on countries to prepare so they can adequately care for their over-60s in the years to come.
This is especially important for developing countries, as projections show 80 per cent of the world’s older people will live in developing countries by 2050.
Longer life: Developing countries will experience greater numbers of elderly over the next four decades.
The report said: 'Population ageing has significant social and economic implications at the individual, family, and societal levels. It also has important consequences and opportunities for a country’s development.
'Although the percentage of older persons is currently much higher in developed countries, the pace of population ageing is much more rapid in developing countries and their transition from a young to an old age structure will occur over a shorter period.
'Not only do developing countries have less time to adjust to a growing population of older persons, they are at much lower levels of economic development and will experience greater challenges in meeting the needs of the increasing numbers of older people.'
The report, compiled by the UN Population Fund and HelpAge International, also notes that many older persons all over the world face continued discrimination, abuse and violence, which goes largely unreported because it is often considered a matter for families that should be dealt with without involving outsiders and older people in many societies may tolerate abusive situations to avoid conflict with their families.
Timebomb: Health conditions like dementia will continue to trise
It also highlights the challenges presented by a rise in dementia sufferers. The total number of people with dementia worldwide in 2010 is estimated at 35.6 million and is projected to nearly double every 20 years, to 65.7 million in 2030 and 115.4 million in 2050.
The total number of new cases of dementia each year worldwide is nearly 7.7 million, equivalent to one new case every four seconds.
The total estimated worldwide cost of dementia in 2010 was $604 billion.
It added: 'Some developed countries have launched policies, plans, strategies or frameworks to respond to the impact of dementia.
'However, by 2012 only eight countries worldwide had national programmes in place to address dementia. Some countries have regional or sub-national-level plans or programmes.'
Richard Blewitt, chief executive officer of HelpAge International, said: 'We must commit to ending the widespread mismanagement of ageing.
'Concrete, cost-effective advances will come from ensuring age investment begins at birth – fully recognising the vast majority of people will live into old age.'