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DEVELOPMENT REPORT – April 22, 2002: UN Report on Aging - 2002-04-19

This is the VOA Special English Development Report.

The number of people over age sixty is expected to increase two times during the next fifty years. A new United Nations population study says the percentage of older people in the world is rising quickly.

Today, one of every ten people is over age sixty. By the middle of the next century, one in five people in the world will be sixty years old or older. That will be almost two-thousand-million people. This means there will be more older people in the world than children. Experts say many developing countries do not have the social services to help increasing numbers of older people.

Joseph Chamie (SHAM-ee) heads the U-N office on population. He says that the average length of time a person is expected to live increased by about twenty years during the last half of the twentieth century.

The current life expectancy is sixty-six years. The oldest of the old people are also living longer. Mister Chamie says that twelve percent of older people are eighty years old or older.

Mister Chamie says the world’s population is getting older because death rates and birth rates have decreased. He says the reduction in these rates has been a great success. The U-N study also found that women still live longer than men in all but two countries – Pakistan and Bangladesh. For every one-hundred women in the world age sixty or over, there are only eighty-one men.

The results of the study were discussed at the U-N Second World Assembly on Aging in Madrid, Spain, earlier this month. During the meeting, delegates from one-hundred-sixty countries agreed on a plan to improve the lives of old people. The measure deals with such issues as education, work, retirement guarantees, housing, health care and the rights of older women.

U-N officials believe the aging of the world’s population will require a change in development aid. They say future aid should meet the needs of older people. In addition, officials say that older people in developing countries usually do not enjoy retirement. Instead, they often face poor living conditions and poor health. The officials say a system other than the family should be established in developing counties to care for older people.

This VOA Special English Development Report was written by Jill Moss.