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India and China need to prepare for ageing populations, says UN

The UN estimates that by 2040, people 65 or over in China will outnumber those under age 25. By 2050 they could comprise 30% of the total population

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Bloomberg

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By Sidhartha Shukla and Lorretta Chen

As India overtakes China as the most populous country in the world, the two “population billionaires” face tough questions on catering to their aging demographics.
 
A United Nations report released Monday estimates that between 2023 and 2050 the number of people aged 65 or over is expected to nearly double in China and to more than double in India. That poses “significant challenges to the capacity of healthcare and social insurance systems.” 

While India’s population is expected to grow for several decades, China’s population has recently started to decline. It fell for the first time since the 1960s after six consecutive years of declining births. In the past three years, China’s working population has dropped by more than 41 million, or roughly the size of Germany’s entire workforce. 

The UN estimates that by 2040, people 65 or over in China will outnumber those under age 25. By 2050 they could comprise 30% of the total population.

The pace of aging is expected to be slower in India. Currently, the South Asian nation has one of the youngest populations — more than half of its people are under 30, with a median age of 28.

“Both countries should commit to social protection and other measures to secure the health and well-being of growing numbers of older persons,” the UN report says.

The two nations together comprise more than one-third of the global population. The demographic shift will not only pose major economic and social challenges for the two countries, but will also impact how the world achieves its sustainable development goals.

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First Published: Apr 24 2023 | 10:18 PM IST

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