The demographic shift that is upon us represents a massive social transformation. Over the course of the 20th century, we have added three decades to life, and we've only just begun. Not only are we living longer – leading to a growing aging population that will reach 2 billion globally by mid-century – but at current rates, the working population (those between 15 and 64) will not be able to support the growing aging demographic. Consequently, the worldwide old-age dependency ratio is estimated to surge from 19 percent in 2005 to 45 percent in 2050.
The consequences of the longevity miracle are profound and destined to impact every aspect of life. The financial underpinnings of retirement safety nets will be threatened. Health care systems will be taxed by an ever increasing number of people with age-related diseases. And individuals will seek to remain healthy, active and engaged members of society – in the workplace and in their communities as they age. Adjusting to the new demographic realities will require new social, cultural and public policy approaches in these areas:
In order to effectively adapt to the changes brought on by this demographic shift, we must be forward thinking and call upon our most innovative minds across the globe to turn what might seem to be a crisis into an opportunity. There's a “new middle age” (between 55 and 75), and no matter how old we are now, we have to start preparing to live differently. Enabled by good public policy, technology and innovation can help lead the charge. If we alter the way our retirement systems are formulated, apply learning throughout the life course, and concentrate resources on finding cures for age-related diseases and solutions for healthy aging, then we could be a more productive and sustainable global community, resulting in more opportunities for discovery, productivity and wealth creation.
Please explore our web site further to learn more about the goals and platforms of the Global Coalition on Aging, and join us as we work toward developing solutions.