The world is undergoing a major demographic upheaval where even the developed economies are struggling to keep pace with the population shift that is taking place. The rate of population growth, fertility and mortality plays a vital role in Either the increase or decrease of population.
According to the demographic transition theory, a country goes through different types of population change. It is a long-term trend where declining birth rates and death rates, result in a substantive change in the age distribution of a population. However, if the changes taking place are balanced in nature, they pose no threats to any nation but if the change shows either a positive or negative trend, it starts to create a burden for the country.
Recent Demographic trend
Recently, there has been an increase in the ageing population of many countries with the young and working populations showing a high rate of decline. The birth rate is so low in these countries that they suffer from a drastically unbalanced population posing threats to the economy and other sectors as well.
Japan and South Korea are the world’s fastest ageing countries. In a recent video, North Korean leader Kin Jong Un was seen crying due to the country’s falling birth rates. He requests North Korean women to have more babies. Also, countries like China, Germany, Italy etc are not immune to the consequences of the ageing population.
Implications for economic growth
The consequences of the ageing population have a greater impact on the economy of any country. It shows a huge decline in the labour force participation rate. As more population becomes older, there is a potential decline in productivity and economic output. As the ratio of dependent population increases, it puts a strain on the social support systems and public finances.
The ageing population requires more healthcare services which in turn results in increased healthcare costs and impacts economic resources. The shift in consumption pattern due to different requirements by old people leads to a change in market demand and affect certain industries.
There is an impact visible in the saving and investment pattern of the country as older people prioritise saving and this can influence investment choices and capital allocation in the economy. Countries with a high old age population due to low birth rates can face challenges in maintaining global competitiveness with a nation filled with high working and young populations.
Urbanisation and migration
Migration, Urbanization and Demographic transition are well connected. Younger people often migrate to urban areas in search of employment opportunities and improved living standards. Urban lifestyles which include delayed marriages, increased education, career-oriented choices and smaller families contribute to an older population structure.
Urbanisation, driven by migration, often results in diverse populations with varied cultural backgrounds. This cultural diversity can influence demographic patterns and family structures in urban areas. The result of the “Youth Drain” from the origin country, potentially contributes to the ageing population and decreased birth rate.
Status of women
The ageing population has significant implications for various aspects of women’s lives and their roles in society. With rising life expectancy, the proportion of the female population aged 65 and above increased from 5% to 11% between 1950 and 2022 and is projected to reach 21
5 by 2050. Older women may be more susceptible to social isolation.
Gender disparities in employment, wages and career interruptions can lead to differences in pension benefits. Ensuring a fair and equitable pension system becomes crucial for the financial security of elderly women. The educational background of older women can have a significant effect on their economic status and access to opportunities.
Role of technology in healthcare
Technological advancements in the healthcare sector have brought a positive impact on the ageing population. Increased life expectancy rates due to proper healthcare services have resulted in a contribution towards the highly old population. Telehealth services, remote monitoring, and digital health solutions have enhanced access and efficiency for the older population.
Improved healthcare infrastructure has brought down the high mortality rates. There is a cure for every disease, multiple medicines and vaccines are available for the prevention of any infection and with premium medical devices, the healthcare sector has been able to treat almost all kinds of illness. This healthcare evolution has been able to reduce the birth rate, contributing to the ageing population too.
The policies of different countries too play a vital role in the demographic pattern of that nation. The government can implement policies to address specific demographic challenges. A real-world example of policy intervention affecting demographic transition is China‘s one-child policy implemented in 1979 and relaxed in 2015. Concerned about overpopulation and its impact on natural resources the Chinese government restricted couples to having only one child which resulted in lowered birth rates giving rise to an ageing population and gender imbalance.
On the contrary, a Country like Sweden has developed family-friendly policies aimed at supporting work-life balance and encouraging family planning. The implementation of policies such as generous parental leave, subsidized childcare, and flexible working hours facilitate both career development and family life, promoting gender equality and supporting population well-being.
The consequences of different factors will have a major role in the future trends of the demographic transition and ageing population. According to WHO, by 2030, 1 in 6 people in the world will be aged 60 years or over. By 2050, the world’s population of people aged 60 years and older will double (2.1 billion).
Globally, the working-age population will see a 10% decrease by 2060. It will fall the most drastically by 35% or more in Greece, Korea, Japan, Latvia, Lithuania, and Poland. If the increase in life expectancy in developed countries over the past two centuries continues through the 21st century, most babies born since 2000 in France, Germany, Italy, The UK, Canada, Japan and other countries with long life expectancies will celebrate their 100th birthdays.
The positive approach to dealing with the ageing population is to develop friendly policies for them. It is important to find ways to make them productive. Encouraging age-friendly workplaces by implementing policies that promote the inclusion of older workers, and providing financial support for elderly individuals.
Addressing the challenges and opportunities of an ageing population requires a collective effort across various sectors. By reimaging education, enhancing policies, and fostering a culture of inclusivity a society can be built that thrives on the strengths and contributions of individuals across all age groups.