Global Trends in an Aging Population

Global Trends in an Aging Population
Coming up next: The Relationship Between Age & Social Status

You're on a roll. Keep up the good work!

Take Quiz Watch Next Lesson
Your next lesson will play in 10 seconds
  • 0:01 View of the World
  • 0:46 Global Trends
  • 2:02 Industrialized Trends
  • 3:15 Developing Trends
  • 4:29 Cultural Changes
  • 5:54 Lesson Summary
Add to Add to Add to

Want to watch this again later?

Log in or sign up to add this lesson to a Custom Course.

Log in or Sign up

Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Natalie Boyd

Natalie is a teacher and holds an MA in English Education and is in progress on her PhD in psychology.

In this lesson we look at global trends that are occurring with the elderly, as well as specific issues that affect industrialized and developing nations. Lastly, we look at how culture is affected by all of this.

View of the World

Typically, when we speak of the elderly, we mean individuals over the age of 65. We tend to shift people from 'older adults' to 'elderly' when they reach retirement age, which reflects our work-centric idea of the world. However, as we discuss some of the developing nations of the world, we will use a slightly looser definition. This looser definition will be for elder, which is an individual who is significantly older and likely not part of the working population. Historically, all countries were on the same playing field. Many industrialized countries now have a life span of around 80 years, but in the early 1900s a person was not typically expected to live past 50.

Global Trends

One of the first global trends to mention is that elder populations are increasing. With advances in medicine and better food, many countries are seeing older individuals live longer and, to some degree, better lives. Currently, the majority of the elder population lives in industrialized nations because that is where the best food and medicine is. However, it is estimated by the United Nations that by the 2050s, the majority of the elder populations will be in developing, not industrialized, nations.

Another interesting global trend is fertility rates, which are the number of babies born per 1,000 people. Fertility rates are often compared to mortality rates, which are the number of deaths per 1,000 people. The global trend here is fertility rates and mortality rates are equalizing. However, an estimated 100 countries possess mortality rates higher than their fertility rates. This means, in many places, there are less people being born than those who die, so populations are shrinking, making them extremely top heavy. When countries are too top heavy or have too many elders, then social programs and labor shortages occur.

Industrialized Trends

Global industrialized nations have a tendency for the median age to increase. The median age is just the age at which half of the population is older and half of the population is younger. The median age of the world is 29. But when we look at industrialized nations, we see median ages increase with industrialization. For example, Japan has a median age of 44, United States is 36 years of age, 33 in China, and 40 in Western Europe. There is just a tendency for industrialized countries to marry and have fewer babies later in life, especially as the technical knowledge and skill demands increase.

Many economies of the world are based on older individuals retiring and younger people taking over the workforce. However, many countries are looking at a population that is growing older every year, with fewer younger workers to take over the job. Effectively, aging populations are retained in worker positions. What does this mean to real people? Essentially, it means that you might end up working longer than your parents or grandparents did, as workers are needed and people are healthy enough to be able to work longer than ever.

Developing Trends

Unlike industrialized nations, which see steady growth and changes, developing nations possess the fastest-growing elderly population. While there are currently large populations of elderly in the industrialized nations, the quickly growing elder population in developing countries means that there will one day be more elders in developing countries than in industrialized. In fact, some estimates put forward a fivefold increase in elder populations in developing nations.

To unlock this lesson you must be a Member.
Create your account

Register to view this lesson

Are you a student or a teacher?

Unlock Your Education

See for yourself why 30 million people use

Become a member and start learning now.
Become a Member  Back
What teachers are saying about
Try it risk-free for 30 days

Earning College Credit

Did you know… We have over 160 college courses that prepare you to earn credit by exam that is accepted by over 1,500 colleges and universities. You can test out of the first two years of college and save thousands off your degree. Anyone can earn credit-by-exam regardless of age or education level.

To learn more, visit our Earning Credit Page

Transferring credit to the school of your choice

Not sure what college you want to attend yet? has thousands of articles about every imaginable degree, area of study and career path that can help you find the school that's right for you.

Create an account to start this course today
Try it risk-free for 30 days!
Create An Account