Aging of World Population, Not Population Growth, is Cause for Alarm: Population Researcher

Fri Jul 21, 2006 - 12:15 pm EST

By Gudrun Schultz

  FRONT ROYAL, Virginia, July 21, 2006 ( – Population control organizations, in particular the United Nations, are ignoring the growing crisis of an aging world population, said Joseph D’Agostino, vice president of the Population Research Institute, in a weekly briefing today.

  A report by the United Nations Population Division (UNDP), released in the fall of 2005, predicted an accelerating trend of population aging in developing nations that would surpass the rapid aging trend already underway in Western nations.

“The UNDP expects the aging, predicted to begin in earnest mid-century in Asia, the Middle East, and Latin America, to happen more dramatically than it is happening now in Europe, where the elderly already outnumber children—and this in countries which will have a fraction of the financial resources to deal with the problem,”  D’Agostino wrote.

  The report outlined the anticipated increase in disparity among population age groups, with the elderly increasingly dominating the population.

“The proportion of those 80 or older will go from 1.3% of the world population today to 4.3% by 2050, when those under 14—the world’s future workers—will decline from 28.2% to 20.2%,” D’Agostino wrote.  “The number of elderly dependents per 100 working-age people worldwide will go from 17 today to 37 in 2050. In less developed countries, the figures are 13 today to 34 in 2050. Can the Third World afford to support almost triple the proportion of old people?”

  D’Agostino pointed out, however, that the figures offered by the UNDP were based on the assumption that the plunge in birth rates in all nations would level off at around 1.85 children per woman. That assumption was groundless, D’Agostino said, given that many nations are already well below that point and showing no signs of reversing the trend. The birth rates in most developed nations have already moved well below the replacement fertility rate of around 2.1 children per woman.

  Dramatic population aging in the Third World, therefore, could occur considerably sooner than the projected date of 2050.

  Despite the alarming figures put forward by the UNFP, along with a call for action before the crisis accelerates, leaders with the United Nations Population Fund persist in pushing for the very policies that have led to the increasing age imbalances.

  On ‘World Population Day 2006’, observed by the UN and affiliates July 11, all of the policies put forth were aimed at reducing childbearing,  D’Agostino reported.

  Thoraya Ahmed Obaid, executive director of the United Nations Population Fund, called for more “family planning” and less “risks of pregnancy and childbirth.” UNFPA documents advocated more “gender equality” in the work place, leaving fewer women raising and caring for children.  The organization emphasised the need to educate girls because “girls who are educated are likely to marry later and to have smaller, healthier families.”

“Universal access to reproductive health, including family planning, is the starting point for a better future for the 1.5 billion young people (ages 10 to 24) who live in developing countries.”

  The UNDP report suggested that with the current radical trend in birth rate reduction worldwide, the overall burden of dependent care on the adult population would be significantly lessened because there would be fewer children needing care.

“Where is the recognition of population aging?” D’Agostino concluded.  “Where is the encouragement for people in countries with falling birthrates to have more children to avert the coming crisis? Nowhere.  Hopefully, before it is too late, the warnings of the UNDP and others will eventually penetrate into the elite circles where ideology and policies are made.”

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