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Future Characteristics of the Elderly in Developing Countries and Their Implications for Policy

Publication Abstract

Download PDF versionHermalin, Albert, Mary Beth Ofstedal, and Rebecca Tesfai. 2006. "Future Characteristics of the Elderly in Developing Countries and Their Implications for Policy." Elderly in Asia Report No. 06-62. May 2006.

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 composition 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 thirteen developing countries that vary by region, size, economic level, and cultural traditions. Findings show dramatic shifts in the educational attainment and family size of the elderly over the next 30-40 years. Implications of these changes for policy and program development are discussed.

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