Development and Ageing of Populations

"Countries should recognize and take into account their demographic trends and changes in the structure of their populations in order to optimize their development" (International Plan of Action on Ageing, para. 13).

Demographic ageing affects the Bedouin elder, Sinai Desert, Egypt (4 KB)size and proportion of the various cohorts, changing young and old dependency ratios and the size of the working population. As a consequence, employment, social security, social welfare, education and health care, as well as investment, consumption and savings patterns, need adjustment.

Developed countries, for example, are adjusting macro-level policies for income security in old age, generally introducing a mix of measures encompassing various pension and social security schemes, incentives for life-long saving, and flexible work and retirement patterns.

Developing countries generally advocate a three-fold approach to income security for older persons: support for their family and community structures; priority to rural development so as to stem the out-migration of youth; and opportunities for older persons to have a means of livelihood, including through participation in cooperative, micro- or family enterprises and through access to training and credit.

Providing adequate income security to older persons is especially challenging in newly industrialized countries where populations have aged rapidly and in countries in transition from central planning where resources and infrastructure are lacking.

Macro-level decisions can also help to ensure that the total living environment supports multi-generational exchanges, active ageing in place and a culture of caring from which all benefit, by for example, establishing programmes to support self-help and family care-giving, as well as by encouraging a continuum of housing arrangements from "granny flats" to community-integrated long-term care facilities.

In periods of demographic and socio-economic transition, reference to the United Nations Principles for Older Persons can help to ensure that macro-level policies take into account the independence, participation, care, self-fulfillment and dignity of older persons. In preparing for the Year, studies could be undertaken on the integration of ageing into the development plans of countries at varying stages of demographic and socio-economic transition.