Around the globe advances in population control have had an unintended consequence, as the numbers of aging baby boomers now far exceed their offspring. This raises the question: Who will care for the elderly, especially in the world’s poorer nations?
“China’s new leadership will soon be confronted by an enormous demographic challenge.” Reports Al Jazeera in a story entitled “Defusing China’s Demographic Timebomb.” According to the story, “The country’s ‘one-child policy’ means not enough babies are being born to support its elderly population. Around 12 years ago, there were six workers for every retiree, but by the year 2030 it is estimated that there will be just two. By 2050, one-third of China’s population is expected to be aged over 60.
Al Jazeera’s Laura Kyle, reporting from Beijing, says: “For generations, elderly Chinese have been looked after at home by their children. The ‘one-child policy’ is breaking that tradition – with the burden of care too great for many young adults to handle on their own. Now increasing numbers of elderly parents are being sent to [hospices].”
According to Kyle, “the United Nations urged countries to address the needs of ageing populations after releasing a report entitled Madrid International Plan of Action on Ageing.
“Some of the key findings of the report are:
- The ageing phenomenon is happening faster in poorer countries
- By 2050, four out of five elderly people will be in developing nations
- Only Japan currently has more than 30 per cent of its population aged over 60
- By 2050, there will be more than 60 countries with the same demographic
- Forty-seven per cent of the world’s older men and 24 per cent of older women are still in the labour force
- Only a third of countries have comprehensive social protection scheme
The plan is the only global agreement for improving older people’s lives and it recommends that:
- Governments should fight any kind of discrimination against older people
- The elderly should be able to work for as long as they want
- They should have the same access to preventive and curative care, as well as rehabilitation as other age groups
- Older people should also have access to decent housing, receive support if they are care-givers and be free from neglect, abuse and violence
For more, see Al Jazeera, “Defusing China’s Demographic Timebomb.”