One in four people in Asia, Pacific will be above 60 by 2050: UNFPA
This demographic shift, alongside declining fertility rates, leads to a shrinking working population despite longer life expectancy.
One in four people in Asia and the Pacific will be above the age of 60 by 2050 and more than half of them will be women, UNFPA Asia-Pacific Regional Director Pio Smith said on Tuesday.
Asia and the Pacific refer to a vast and diverse region that encompasses Asia and the Pacific Islands, which are scattered throughout the Pacific Ocean.
Addressing a press briefing, Smith said along with ageing populations, countries are also witnessing low fertility rates as women are having fewer babies.
"This means that while people are living longer, the working population is also shrinking," Smith said.
Smith said it is easy to hear alarm bells ring if the focus is only on the numbers.
"We really do have to understand that population ageing and low fertility are not problems to be solved. They are demographic transitions that the human population has consistently experienced throughout its history and such population transformations do not happen overnight," he said.
"So we need to be ready and we need to make timely investments. This cannot be done in isolation. We need to look at the bigger picture. Increasing humanitarian crises, intensifying climate change, growing urbanisation, migration and the rapid developments and advancements in digital technologies -- all of these impact people at every stage of their life," he added.
Toshiko Kaneda, Technical Director of Demographic Research, Population Research Bureau, said by mid-2040, the size of the population aged above 65 will surpass the size of the population of children and youth under the age of 15.
"By 2050, 1 in 10 people in the world will be older adults from the Asia Pacific region, up from 1 in 50 in 1970," she said.
She also stressed the need to change the mindset from "increase or decrease of national fertility rate" to "supporting people to make their fertility choices".
Kaneda noted that the rate of increase in the number of older adults in the Asia Pacific is the highest in the world.
The older population in the Asia Pacific has grown by nearly six-fold compared to four-fold globally since 1970 and is projected to double between 2022-2050.
Responding to a question by PTI, Dr Rintaro Mori, Regional Advisor for Population Ageing and Sustainable Development at UNFPA Asia, said it is a great opportunity for populous countries in the Asia-Pacific like China and India to share how population policies should be formulated.
Toshiko added that India has a very low female labour force participation rate considering the educational status of women.
"So, I think that is the untapped resource for India that the government will probably want to start thinking about," she said.