World`s elderly could number two billion by 2050

New Delhi: Every ninth person in the world is aged 60 and above and their numbers will increase to one in five by 2050, numbering two billion elderly, a UN agency has concluded.

Those over 100 years of age too will witness an exponential 10-time growth from 316,600 in 2011 to 3.2 million by 2050, the `Ageing in the Twenty-First Century : A Celebration and A Challenge` report said.

In the report, the United Nations Population Fund India (UNFPA) as well as other UN entities and international organisations like HelpAge International said the population of the world`s aged was growing steadily, leading to increased concern over their income security. The world population in 2012 is just over seven billion.

"In 1950, there were 205 million persons aged 60 years or over in the world. By 2012, the number of older persons increased to almost 810 million. It is projected to reach one billion in less than 10 years and double by 2050, reaching two billion," the report said.

It was released in Tokyo, Japan Monday (Oct 1), observed as International Day of the Elderly.

With one in nine persons in the world aged 60 years or above, (it is) projected to increase to one in five by 2050. Population ageing is a phenomenon that can longer be ignored," the report said.

Interestingly, "the number of centenarians will increase globally from 316,600 in 2011 to 3.2 million in 2050", it added.

Said UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon: "Population ageing can no longer be ignored. Globally, the proportion of older persons is growing at a faster rate than the general population. The report recommends incorporating ageing issues into national development plans and poverty-reduction strategies and stronger legislation than can protect their human rights."

The survey also indicated that around the world, two persons celebrate their 60th birthday every second, which counts up to almost 58 million persons celebrating their 60th birthday annually.

"The survey analyses the current situation of the elder persons and reviews the progress in policies and actions taken by the government and other stakeholders. We (UNFPA) chose Japan to release the survey as it has an elderly population of over 30 percent," said Frederika Meijer, UNFPA representative, India and Bhutan.

The report also emphasised that population ageing is progressing fast in developing countries, including those that have a large population of young people.

"Of the current 15 countries with more than 10 million older persons, seven of them are developing countries," the report noted.

Giving reasons for the increase in the ageing population, it pointed out that life expectancy rose substantially in the recent years.

Life expectancy at birth has risen substantially across the world. In 2010-2015, life expectancy is 78 years in developed countries and 68 years in developing regions. By 2040-2050, it will increase to 83 years in developed regions and 74 years in developing regions," the report said.

"Ageing is a triumph of development. Increasing longevity is one of humanity`s greatest achievements. People live longer because of improved nutrition, sanitation, medical advances among other things," Meijer said.

The report laid emphasis on urgent concerns of elderly person worldwide like investment in pension and quality health care.

"Among the most urgent concerns of elderly persons worldwide is income security. This, together with health, is most frequently mentioned by older persons themselves. These issues are also among the greatest challenges for governments faced with ageing populations," it noted.