Posted by: kenwbudd | March 31, 2010

Facing Up to the Demographic Dilemma

Facing Up to the Demographic Dilemma

The world is in the midst of an epochal demographic shift that will reshape societies, economies, and markets over the next century.

The big news is that the world population, according to United Nations forecasts, will either stabilize or peak around 2050, after growing for centuries at an ever-accelerating rate.

The main reason is the decline occurring in birthrates as nations advance economically, and it is already having a significant impact: As birthrates drop and better health care prolongs life spans, the world’s population is aging rapidly. For example, between 1950 and 2000, the percentage of the world population older than 60 rose almost imperceptibly to 10 percent from 8 percent.

By 2050, however, that percentage will more than double, to 21 percent. And in many countries — notably Japan and those in western Europe — the share of population age 60-plus will be more than 40 percent by mid-century.

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