Counter to popular views, global ageing is not a problem confined to “developed world”.   A new book published by the World Bank highlights this point as it explores the readiness of countries in Latin America to manage the expected ageing of their populations.  According to the authors, “The past half-century has seen enormous changes in the demographic makeup of Latin America and the Caribbean.”  They explain that, in the 1950’s, the region had a population of about 160 million, was predominantly rural,  and had one of the highest fertility rates in the world.  Over the last decades, however, the region’s “population has tripled and the mostly rural population has been transformed into a largely urban population.”  Additionally, there have been “steep reductions” in child mortality, fertility “has been more than halved”, life expectancy has “gown by 22 years and “a population with a large fraction of dependent children has evolved into a population with fewer dependents and a very large proportion of working-age adults”.

The book thus explores the way in which Latin American countries can best provide for the needs of their ageing populations and manage the fiscal pressures brought upon by population ageing.  It finds that “the demographic changes of the next 40 years present both challenges and opportunities”.  On the one hand,  “the fiscal impacts of population aging are likely to be as large in Latin America as they are in the European Union” and “[i]ncreases in health care obligations are likely to rival those of pensions”. On the other, “[p]opulation aging reduces the costs of public investment in education and would allow for substantial increases in educational investment per child”.

Take some time to look through the World Bank’s report and share your thoughts with IAHSA.  Is your region ready for the ageing challenge?  What steps need to be taken?

Full text of the book is available here.

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