The state of world population aging

The rapid increase in both the number and proportion of older persons in the five BRICS countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa) will have multifaceted implications for social and economic development. The first BRICS Meeting on Aging organized by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) China provided a comprehensive review of developments in the field of population aging in these countries.

In 2015, BRICS countries were home to over 380 million older persons aged 60 and above. This represents about 42% of the world’s population and the trend is projected to move upwards. Such a rapid increase in both the number and proportion of older persons will have multifaceted implications for the social and economic development of these countries, as well as for their social and economic transition in the coming decades.

The first BRICS Meeting on Aging organized by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) China, provided a comprehensive review of developments in the field of population aging in BRICS countries. In particular, discussions during the event focused on common challenges faced by these countries, analyses of national experiences in coping with, and harnessing opportunities presented by aging, and the presentation of findings and recommendations for BRICS countries and others.

Policymakers, academics, students, and private sector representatives from BRICS countries, attended the event. Invited participants from other countries also took part in the discussions to provide wider and in-depth input on meeting topics.

As an established expert on aging in Russia and beyond, World Population Program Deputy Director Sergei Scherbov was invited to attend the meeting and brainstorm with other participants on how to promote collaborations on aging among BRICS countries. He gave a presentation on the state of world population aging as measured using the newest indicators developed at IIASA.

Scherbov, together with Warren Sanderson, has been developing new measures of age and aging in demographic research for many years. They suggest broadening research methods to account for significant increases in life expectancy, as the focus on chronological age of people alone provides a limited picture of the process–one that is often not appropriate for either scientific study or policy analysis. Their groundbreaking results have been published in Nature and Science, as well as in other high-level journals. Scherbov is principal investigator of the Reassessing Aging from a Population Perspective (Re-Aging) project at IIASA that, among other things, ascertains the extent to which advanced societies are actually aging in multiple dimensions, including health, cognitive abilities, and longevity.

The 2017 meeting on aging included three components: a) Responses of BRICS countries to population aging; b) Data on aging in BRICS countries; and c) Innovative practices on aging in BRICS countries.

The meeting was jointly hosted by the China National Committee on Aging (CNCA), Renmin University of China (RUC), and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) in China, and organized by the China Research Centre on Ageing (CRCA), and the Institute of Gerontology at RUC.

The 1st BRICS Meeting on Aging took place in Beijing, China from 6 to 7 December 2017.