Megatrend four: Preparing for a ripe old age

feature-ripe-old-age-200This is a six-part series on megatrends, exploring the compelling economic, social, environmental, political and technological issues facing Australia, as part of the CSIRO’s new report, Our Future World 2012.

In part three of this ongoing series on megatrends, Stefan Hajkowicz examined whether we are smart enough to become the Switzerland of the Asia.

In part four, Hajkowicz discusses how the world is ageing and the challenges that creates.

An academic friend of mine told me that getting old isn’t a problem. You’ve only got one option. That’s to get old. But choosing where to go for your next holiday is a problem. You’ve got lots of options. There is much truth in this observation and I frequently recount it in my lectures on decision theory. But while old age is inevitable, as individuals and as a society, we have many options about how we age.

The Forever Young megatrend looks into the ageing population and the implications for health care and retirement models. And whether you look at Australia, the OECD or the whole world the data reveal an increasingly elderly demographic.

Demographic forecasts by the Australian Bureau of Statistics reveal the extent of change in the nation’s age profile. In 2011, 14% of the Australian population was aged 65 years and over. By 2056, this proportion is predicted to rise to between 23% and 25%.

It’s happening in other OECD countries. Japan has the fastest speed of ageing amongst the world’s countries. The Japanese Statistics Bureau reports that in 1950, 4.5% of Japan’s population was over 70 years old. By 2010, it was 23%. By 2050, it is forecast to increase to 40%.

The whole world is getting older too. According to the United Nations the world population as a whole is ageing. In 1950, 8% of the world’s people were over 65 years old. This grew to 11.2% by 2011 and is forecast to reach 22% by 2050. This means the world will contain more than 2 billion people over the age of 60 years by the year 2050.

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