By Thaddeus M. Baklinski and John-Henry Westen

BETHESDA, MD, July 22, 2009 ( – A report by the US National Institute on Aging (NIA) says that the average age of the world's population is increasing at an unprecedented rate and that “within 10 years, for the first time in human history there will be more people aged 65 and older than children under 5 in the world.”

The report entitled “An Aging World: 2008,” examines the demographic and socioeconomic implications of this trend and contains detailed information on life expectancy, health, disability, gender balance, marital status, living arrangements, education and literacy, labor force participation and retirement, and pensions among older people around the world.

Childlessness among European and U.S. women aged 65 in 2005 ranged from less than 8 percent in the Czech Republic to 15 percent in Austria and Italy, the study noted. Twenty percent of women aged 40-44 in the United States in 2006 had no biological children. The study suggested that these data raise questions about the provision of care when that group of women reaches advanced ages.

“The world's population of people over age 65 is growing rapidly, and with it will come a number of challenges and opportunities,” said NIA Director Richard J. Hodes, M.D.

The number of people worldwide age 65 and older was estimated at 506 million as of midyear 2008; by 2040, that number will be 1.3 billion.  Thus, in just over 30 years, the proportion of older people will double from 7 percent to 14 percent of the total world population, according to the report.

“Aging is affecting every country in every part of the world,” said Richard Suzman, Ph.D., director of NIA's Division of Behavioral and Social Research. “While there are important differences between developed and developing countries, global aging is changing the social and economic nature of the planet and presenting difficult challenges. The fact that, within 10 years, for the first time in human history there will be more people aged 65 and older than children under 5 in the world underlines the extent of this change.”

An important aspect of the report deals with aging population in developing countries, but the research does not identify the causes of the burgeoning imbalance of old to young, such as China's coercive one child policy, or the world-wide population manipulation policies of the UN.

A UN report on aging a decade ago warned of economic consequences from the aging problem, predicting dire implications in terms of social support for elderly people. “The potential support ratio, which indicates the dependency burden on potential workers, is falling,” said the report.

“Between 1999 and 2050, the potential support ratio will decline from 5 to 2 working age persons per older person in more developed regions and by an even larger fraction in less developed regions, from 12 to 4, thus affecting social security schemes, particularly traditional pay-as-you-go systems where current workers pay for the benefits of current retirees.”

The full text of the  report “An Aging World: 2008” is available at

See the UN report from 1999 here: