World Social and Economic Survey 2007

Greater longevity is an indicator of human progress in general. Increased life expectancy and lower fertility rates are changing the population structure worldwide in a major way: the proportion of older persons is rapidly increasing, a process known as population ageing. The process is inevitable and is already advanced in developed countries and progressing quite rapidly in developing ones.

The 2007 Survey analyzes the implications of population aging for social and economic development around the world, while recognizing that it offers both challenges and opportunities. Among the most pressing issues is that arising from the prospect of a smaller labor force having to support an increasingly larger older population. Paralleling increased longevity are the changes in intergenerational relationships that may affect the provision of care and income security for older persons, particularly in developing countries where family transfers play a major role.

At the same time, it is also necessary for societies to fully recognize and better harness the productive and social contributions that older persons can make but are in many instances prevented from making. The Survey argues that the challenges are not insurmountable, but that societies everywhere need to put in place the policies required to confront those challenges effectively and to ensure an adequate standard of living for each of their members, while respecting and promoting the contribution and participation of all.” United Nations Development Policy and Analysis Division. The website allows one to download the book itself, and to download the background papers that were prepared for its authors.

Source: United Nations Development Policy and Analysis Division,