March 13, 2007 / 6:18 AM / 13 years ago

U.N. report predicts older people to triple by 2050

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - The number of people 60 years of age and older may nearly triple to 2 billion by 2050, accounting for nearly a quarter of the expected 9.2 billion global population, a U.N. report warned on Tuesday.

Women stand inside a beadhouse, a home for the elderly, in Xining, capital of northwestern China's Qinghai province October 26, 2006. The number of people 60 years of age and older may nearly triple to 2 billion by 2050, accounting for nearly a quarter of the expected 9.2 billion global population, a U.N. report warned on Tuesday. REUTERS/Stringer

The 2006 revision of “World Population Prospects” by the U.N. Department of Economic and Social Affairs Population Division predicts the global population will swell by 2.5 billion from the current 6.7 billion during the next 43 years.

“While the population at the global level is on track to surpass 9 billion by 2050 and hence continues to increase, that of the more developed regions is hardly changing and will age very markedly,” the report predicted.

Most of the population growth and youth in the world is expected to come from poorer nations, the report said.

“Virtually all population growth is occurring in the less developed regions and especially in the group of 50 least developed countries, many of which still have relatively youthful populations which are expected to age only moderately over the foreseeable future,” it said. “Among the rest of the developing countries, rapid population aging is forecast.”

A combination of people living longer and having fewer children would nearly double the number of people over 60 years of age from the current 245 million to 406 million in 2050.

The report said the prevailing trend of people not having enough babies to replace people dying would continue in the developed countries, while fertility in the least developed nations would decline but still remain higher than the rest of the world.

“Because of its low and declining population growth, the population of the developed countries as a whole is expected to remain virtually unchanged between 2007 and 2050, at about 1.2 billion,” the report found.

“In contrast the population of the 50 least developed countries will likely more than double, passing from 0.8 billion in 2007 to 1.7 billion in 2050,” it said. “Growth in the rest of the developing world is also projected to be robust though less rapid, with its population rising from 4.6 billion to 6.2 billion.”

Despite immigration barriers, international migration from poor to rich nations is expected to make up for the shortage in the labor force in the developing world, the report said.

Still, the populations in 46 countries, including Germany, Italy, Japan, South Korea, most of the former Soviet Union states and several small island states are expected to be lower in 2050 than what they are now.

But the populations of Afghanistan, Burundi, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Guinea-Bissau, Liberia, Niger, East Timor and Uganda are forecast to triple in the next four decades, the report showed.

The report found that India, Nigeria, Pakistan, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, the United States, Bangladesh and China are forecast to account for half the world’s projected 2.5 billion population increase by 2050.

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