Richard Purcell asks whether ageing is inevitable, and how it will affect developed and emerging economies in the long run
It's easy to think of an ageing population as an inevitable feature of developed economies. But this view seems outdated on a number of fronts.
First, ageing is increasingly an issue for emerging economies too, thanks to lower fertility and better healthcare.
In fact, some projections predict that the proportion of people aged 65 and over in Africa is set to almost triple from 3.6% in 2010 to 10% in 2050, and in some parts could match that of industrialised nations.
Second, the belief that ageing is inevitable is also being turned on its head. We've known for a long time that lifestyle has an impact on our health, and therefore the rate of ageing. Yet this knowledge has still to translate into a meaningful change in behaviour for most people. Dale Rayman (bit.ly/23aMhcN) considers the ways we can try to improve nutrition, in particular through policy, wellness programmes and technology.
However, instead of just changing the rate of ageing, can we actually bypass the ageing process altogether? Gerontologist Aubrey De Grey believes we can, through a process of genetic repair. He shares his views in our interview this month (bit.ly/1Md6O94).
For as long as ageing is inevitable, there are a number of consequences for us to confront. One of the biggest is the growing need for care. Thomas Kenny (bit.ly/206HkfM) looks at the complexity of care provision in the UK, and how means-tested state benefits could actually discourage individuals from saving more towards their own future care needs.
As emerging economies also have to address the impact of an ageing population and under-insurance more generally, perhaps it calls for other solutions like microinsurance (bit.ly/1SzTAzN)? Whatever the future of ageing, there is lots of work to be done.