AARP International

ARC 1.0
Inaugural ARC Countries

Introduction

The world is aging at an unprecedented pace. In the coming decades, large and small, industrialized and developing countries alike, with few exceptions, will experience a rapid growth in the proportion of their populations age 65 or older, driven by longer lifespans and declining birthrates. With this looming demographic transformation, a healthier, more productive, and more engaged older population is essential to building a prosperous and sustainable future. As such, a rethinking of the role of older adults in our communities and economies is imperative. AARP and FP Analytics have partnered to conduct an in-depth study of aging policy in 12 countries to produce the Aging Readiness and Competitiveness (ARC) Report.

Download the executive summary

Percentage of Older Population in the Total Population Over Time

  • 1950
  • 1955
  • 1960
  • 1965
  • 1970
  • 1975
  • 1980
  • 1985
  • 1990
  • 1995
  • 2000
  • 2005
  • 2010
  • 2015
  • 2020
  • 2025
  • 2030
  • 2035
  • 2040
  • 2045
  • 2050

Pillars

 

Community Social Infrastructure

Perhaps the most consistent feature of older adults around the world is their strong preference for aging at home. In fact, independent living is on the rise, particularly in developing countries where families are shifting away from multigenerational structures. Our first pillar looks at how countries and communities are ensuring that seniors are able to remain not only independent, but also active and contributing members of their community.

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Productive Opportunity

Countries around the world are grappling with having to sustain long-term economic growth as their working-age population shrinks as a share of the total population. For industrialized countries, as well as China, this is already an issue, but it is only 10 to 15 years away for some of their upper middle-income counterparts. Older adults are part of the answer – they are living longer and healthier, possess valuable experience and expertise, and increasingly seek to remain active and productive.

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Technological Engagement

We are entering the era of digital technology and technological advancement that could be transformative for the economic and social engagement and health of older people, but today they remain the most vulnerable to digital exclusion. Still relatively small-scale in most countries, work is beginning to promote digital literacy and to develop technology-driven products and services for this market, including from the private sector, which has been driving much of its growth.

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Healthcare and Wellness

Lifespans continue to extend in most countries at a faster rate than healthspans – the years when one is generally healthy and free of disease. Extending healthy living enables older adults to engage productively in their communities and economies. There are also significant economic implications of the rising need for long-term care, which can both create a fiscal burden and draw caregivers, particularly women, out of the labor force.

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Countries

The 12 countries selected for this debut report – Brazil, Canada, China, Germany, Israel, Japan, Korea, Mexico, South Africa, Turkey, the United Kingdom, and the United States – are the largest economies by region, with the exception of Africa, where the largest upper middle-income economy was chosen. Together, they represent 61 percent of the global economy and nearly half of people aged 65 or older, and include a diversity of economic, social, and cultural contexts.

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Brazil

Brazil only became an “aging” society in 2012, but the share of its population age 65 and older is projected to triple by 2050, driven by improved life expectancy and declining fertility rates. As Brazil’s population is still relatively young, aging has not yet become a matter of wide public interest. Over the past two elections, in 2014 and 2016, not a single major candidate for president or mayor talked specifically about older Brazilians.

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Brazil’s pace of aging, in terms of growth in the share of the total population, will be the fastest among all the countries in this study. By 2050, Brazil will have the world’s fourth-largest older population, behind only China, India, and the United States.rpis a accumsan.

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Canada
In 2015, for the first time, Canadians age 65 and older outnumbered those younger than 15. Even though older adults make up a smaller share of the population in Canada than in many OECD countries, the growth of this segment has dramatically outpaced that of the general population every year since 2011, when the post-World War II baby boomers started to turn 65. By 2026, Canada is expected to become a “super-aged” society as the share of people age 65 and older will exceed 21 percent of the total population.

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More than 92 percent of those age 65 and older live in private households rather than in collective dwellings such as nursing homes, and 81 percent live either alone or with a spouse. While this percentage has been relatively stable since the 2000s, the share of those who live alone has declined slightly due to improvements in the life expectancy of men.

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China

China is home to nearly a quarter of the world’s population age 60 or older, which is projected to double over the next two decades. The country is growing old before it gets rich. The fast aging of the population is coupled with simultaneous change in the family structure, as a result of one-child policy adopted in late 1970s, as well as rapidly growing urbanization and migration. These unique circumstances are driving a need for the country to enhance its social infrastructure and to develop new models to accommodate a healthy, productive, and active aging population.

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China’s population age 60 or older had reached 210 million as of 2014, as large as the populations of Germany, the United Kingdom, and France combined.

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Israel

Israel stands out among high-income countries for its relatively young population. Although its population age 65 and older is projected to more than double through 2050, Israel will still have the youngest population among OECD countries, largely a result of its comparatively high fertility rate. Despite the lack of demographic pressure, Israel has been ahead of its time in terms of developing various long-standing social programs and a robust network of support for community centers and caregivers to accommodate a healthier, and more productive and engaged older population.

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As of 2015, only 11.2 percent of Israel’s total population was 65 and older, just over two-thirds of the average of its peers. By 2050, the share is projected to reach just 17.4 percent, the lowest among OECD countries. Israel’s fertility rate is comparatively high − 3.05 children per woman from 2010 through 2015, nearly double the average of high-income countries.

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Germany

Germany is currently one of only five “super-aged” societies in the world, and its population of those age 65 and older will continue to grow, reaching nearly one-third of the total population by 2050. In light of this demographic shift, German policymakers are working to increase labor force participation among older adults through various training and education programs as well as retirement system reforms. While labor force participation is still relatively low, Germany’s older adults have high levels of volunteerism, partly thanks to the government’s endeavors to create various opportunities for older adults to remain active in their communities.

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Germany’s population age 65 and older is projected to grow by 41 percent to 24 million by 2050, accounting for nearly one-third of the total population. At the same time, the population ages 15 through 64 will shrink by 23 percent – from about 53 million in 2015 to about 41 million by 2050.

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Japan

Japan became the world’s first “super-aged” society in 2006. Today, one in four Japanese citizens is 65 or older, and their share of the population will continue to grow, holding onto the country’s position as the world’s most aged society through 2050. The country stands out most because the population is not only aging but also shrinking. A falling birth rate and nearly zero net immigration have been the major contributors to this decline. At the forefront of aging societies, Japan is also a leader in preparing the country to accommodate a healthier and more productive and engaged older population.

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Japan’s share of the population age 65 or older is projected to grow by one-third to 36 percent of the total population by 2050. From 2010 through 2015, Japan’s population shrank by almost one million people – the first time since the 1920s – and the decline is projected to continue.

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Korea

Korea is among the most rapidly aging high-income countries, and it is projected to overtake Japan to become the most aged country in the world in 2060. The fast aging of the Korean population is partly a result of the country’s two baby booms, which emerged between 1955 and 1963 and between 1968 and 1974. The aging baby boomers tend to be better educated and wealthier than previous generations, representing an enormous economic and business opportunity for the country, particularly in terms of labor participation and technology adoption.

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In 2017, Korea is expected to become an “aged” society, having crossed the UN threshold of 14 percent of its population over age 65. It will have taken only 18 years to complete the transition from an “aging” society, less time than any current “aged society.”

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Mexico

Mexico is on the verge of a demographic sea change. Today, it remains a relatively young country with the second lowest percentage of people age 65 or older among countries covered in this study. However, the size of this group is projected to more than triple by 2050, largely driven by the country’s declining fertility rate. However, because older people remain a small share of the population today, the Mexican government has yet to prepare for the demographic shift and has not invested in the necessary infrastructure to support a healthy aging process.

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Mexico’s population age 65 and older is projected to grow by 277 percent from 8.2 million in 2015 to over 30 million by 2050. This rate of growth can be compared with the growth rate of 194 percent for upper-middle-income countries and just 71 percent for high-income countries.

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South Africa

With just 5 percent of its population currently age 65 and older, South Africa is the youngest of the countries included in this study and has yet to start aging. Thanks to a consistently high fertility rate, the share of the older population is growing at a much slower pace than other upper-middle-income countries. This lack of demographic pressure has given the government little incentive to prioritize aging-related issues on its policy agenda.

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Today, South Africa’s population age 65 and older is equivalent to just one-sixth of the population ages 0 through 14. The percentage of the older population is projected to just double to reach 10.2 percent of the total population by 2050 – a pace of change about one-third slower than other upper-middle-income countries.

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Turkey

Turkey’s 65 and older population will more than triple by 2050, aging at the second-fastest pace among OECD countries. While awareness of this demographic shift is gaining traction, it has yet to become a priority for the Turkish government, which has been grappling with other more immediate issues, including geopolitical and national security risks, economic slowdown, youth unemployment, and social stability.

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With a median age of just 29.8, the second lowest in the OECD, Turkey’s population is set to age rapidly. It is projected to become an “aged” society within two decades, when the population age 65 or older exceeds 14 percent of the total population.

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United Kingdom

Like many European countries, the UK has been an aged society for several decades, but as baby boomers are growing older, the country will see the pace of aging accelerate over the next two decades. The population of older adults is projected to grow by nearly 45 percent from 2015 through 2035, growing by 278,000 each year, almost ten times the average annual increase in the working population (15 through 64 years old).

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The UK’s older population is projected to grow by over a quarter of a million people each year through 2037, nearly 10 times the average annual increase in the working population.

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United States

Every day in the U.S., 10,000 people turn 65, and the number of older adults will more than double over the next several decades to top 88 million people and represent over 20 percent of the population by 2050. The rapid pace of change creates an opportunity and an imperative for both the public and private sector to harness the potential of the growing segment of society and to ensure the welfare of older Americans.

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Every day in the United States, 10,000 people turn 65, and the number of older adults will more than double over the next several decades and represent over 20 percent of the population by 2050.

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