Kausar Fatima looks at a problematic issue
Old populations of many countries are getting old and they face a shortage of able and potential workforce. Declining birth rates, growing divorce rates and increasing life expectancies are among the many factors changing demographics around the world. These reasons have resulted that Old populations in many countries have aged and not only play less role in the development process but also become liable to be taken care of in old age.
Japan leads the way in this respect as with a median age of 48 it is the oldest country in the world. In fact, a quarter of its population i.e. 28 per cent is 65 years old or older, a proportion that is expected to rise to 38% by 2050. Diminishing birth rates coupled with increased life expectancy in recent decades lie at the root of this demographic trend. In fact, by 2050, the number of working people is expected to equal that of retired people. Interestingly, while marriage is still strongly valued in Japanese culture, marriages there continue to decrease. Furthermore, only 2% of births take place outside of marriage, and about a quarter of Japanese people do not marry by the time they reach age 50, another explanation for the decline in birth rates.
Italy is the next in line as 23 per cent of its Old populations is aged 65 or over, making it the second-oldest country in the world and the oldest in Europe. The global tendency of declining birth rates among developed countries is to blame, of course, but many of Italy’s young people are emigrating as well. Other factors, such as a belief that one must marry before leaving the family home, a lack of financial aid for students and little support for pregnant women also explain Italy’s declining birth rate.
Portugal also faces the same issue as not only is over 22 per cent of the Portuguese population aged 65 or older but the country has also suffered a 2% decrease in population over the last decade. Portugal’s populace is aging rapidly, in part due to a lack of work for young people at home, prompting them to seek opportunities abroad. Portugal is expected to have more than 10,000 centenarians by 2050, more than double the 4,000 living there today.
Finland’s more than one-fifth population is aged 65 or older. This country is considered one of the world’s happiest so it is not surprising that Finns have enjoyed increased longevity. Indeed, Finland’s population has both aged rapidly and suffered a decline in births. To counteract this trend, the government implemented birth-friendly measures that have actually improved birth rates since the beginning of the pandemic.
Greece also has about 22 per cent of its population that is 65 years old or older. In fact, Greece’s inhabitants have been continuously aging since 2010 while their numbers decreased by 3.7% between 1 January, 2011, and 1 January, 2020, mainly due to dropping birth rates prompted by the economic crisis. Not only are women having children later in life but families are also having fewer offspring due to the cost and a lack of social support measures.
Germany has one-fifth of its population aged at least 65, the rate at which Germany’s population is getting older has accelerated since the start of the 21st century. A longer life expectancy and drop in birth rates due to ineffective family policies are still among the primary causes of this demographic trajectory. TW