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Future characteristics of the elderly in developing countries and their implications for policy

Albert Hermalin, University of Michigan
Mary Beth Ofstedal, University of Michigan

Many countries in the developing world are experiencing rapid population aging, prompting concerns that this will have adverse effects on their socioeconomic advancement and on the well-being of older populations. How these forces play out in the coming years is subject to many unknowns including world and country specific economic conditions, social changes related to family dynamics, urbanization and education, and the policies and programs adopted. What can be foreseen with more clarity is the nature of the future elderly in terms of characteristics like education, marital status, and number of children, which relate directly to their well-being on several dimensions as well as to trends in the larger society. This paper uses the demographic technique of cohort succession to generate profiles of the elderly to 2050 on key characteristics for a set of developing countries that vary by region, size, economic level, and cultural traditions. Implications of these profiles for policy and program development are discussed.

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Presented in Session 13: The future of the elderly