Population Ageing in High-Longevity Countries: Demographic Dynamics and Socio-economic Challenges

Overview of a Population Question
By Carole Bonnet, Emmanuelle Cambois, Roméo Fontaine, Catriona Dutreuilh, Beatrice van Hoorn Alkema

In 2015, the French law on the adaptation of society to ageing signaled the country’s political will to prepare comprehensively for the consequences of population ageing. It formalized the findings of international research and public debates that have long emphasized its scope and multiple implications. This article reviews these issues by drawing on the experience of 40 high-longevity countries. In 2020, there were 4 times as many people aged 65 and older as there were in 1950; in Japan, the ‘oldest’ country, their proportion has jumped from 5% to 28%, and life expectancy has nearly doubled. The first part of this article lays out the definitions and measures of population ageing, then describes the diversity of the dynamics of these high-longevity countries. The second part examines the multidimensional and intertwined issues at stake, regarding health (What is the limit to longevity? How is life expectancy in good health changing?), demography (How are family and partnership configurations changing?), and the economy via the problematics of social protection models (retirement, assisted living, intergenerational transfers).

  • ageing
  • life expectancy
  • retirement
  • dependence
  • assisted living
  • health inequalities
  • disability
  • families
  • old age
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