The Pew Research Center recently published an article called “Attitudes About Aging: A Global Perspective.” The article includes research and data from a survey about changing global perspectives on aging. The study projects by 2050, the global population of senior citizens 65 and older will reach 1.5 billion. According to the report, countries in East Asia such as China, South Korea and Japan will lead the world with a large graying population. What the Pew Research Center defines as the “dependent” population (citizens 15 years old and younger as well as 64-years and older) will soon be reversed for key countries. Though China currently has leads in the world’s largest population, by 2050, this current generation in the workforce will soon be a part of the “dependent” category. On the other hand, countries such as Nigeria (expected to triple in population) and Kenya (expected to double in population) will soon have a large population of youth enter the workforce. The Pew concludes countries from East Asia alongside their European counterparts (expected to continue to have a sizable older population by 2050) will have a diminished labor force and could pose challenges for economic growth. Global attitudes about the older population, however, do not prove so positive for certain countries. In South Korea, despite the high standard of living and wealth in the country, 50% of the country’s elderly population are living in poverty. The generation that helped South Korea’s meteoric rise in development has led to an inversion of their status in old age: homelessness and neglect with little governmental support. Currently, only one-third of elderly citizens receive pension. The young population in South Korea are moving towards the cities. Moreover, government polls display changing attitudes from the Confucian-based ideal of taking care of the elderly. The younger generation has shifted from 90% to 37% believing that they should take care of their parents. According to The Pew, more than one-third of citizens from Germany, the United Kingdom and the United States, along with South Korea, believe seniors should be self-reliant in their old age as opposed to receiving aid from the government. Meanwhile, countries that presently have large, young populations, such as Pakistan, Egypt, India, Nigeria, Kenya and South Africa will have a massive labor force that will hopefully have a positive impact on the labor market and promote economic development. Development in public health and education is crucial for Africa’s future working generation to live up to its potential. – Miles Abadilla Sources: Columbia Daily Herald, The Guardian, Pew Research Center Photo: Discover Magazine
As the world’s aging population continues to increase, global hunger for senior citizens is becoming a concern for international health organizations. In the next forty years, the number of people over the age of 60 will increase from 600 million to 2.4 billion people. The added threat to these aging people is that, not only do they not have access to the necessary amount of food, but they are also often simultaneously suffering from other illnesses. Without food security, the elderly easily become less able to recover from such ailments.
This is not just an issue affecting the developing world. Enid Borden, CEO of the National Foundation to End Senior Hunger, disclosed at the Annual Legislative Breakfast that, in 2010, 8.3 million seniors (14 percent of the population) were living in hunger. That number had drastically increased from 5.2 million people in 2005.
There are certain demographics more likely to be affected by hunger. Lower income senior citizens, racial or ethnic minorities, and seniors in the South and Southwest in the United States are at highest risk. At the breakfast, Borden showed a video that featured an immigrant from the Dominican Republic who often has to choose between paying for medicine or food.
Ms. Borden believes that Americans can fight hunger in their home country as well as around the world. The important thing is to not forget about our aging population and to incorporate methods that specifically help senior citizens. Too often the elderly do not receive the care they need and deserve. As this population increases, it will become ever more vital to develop a solution for global hunger.
– Mary Penn
“The Borgen Project is an incredible nonprofit organization that is addressing poverty and hunger and working towards ending them.”