Global focus on economics of ageing


AT A CONFERENCE on global ageing, in Dublin this week, 360 delegates from around the world will gather to discuss strategies to deal with the marked increase in the world population of older people.

Co-chairman of the conference Davis Coakley, professor of medical gerontology at Trinity College, Dublin, said while there would be a three-fold increase in people aged over 65 in Ireland by 2041, “the most dramatic changes will be seen in underdeveloped countries”.

“At present those over 65 represent some 11 per cent of the population of the Republic; this will increase to 22 per cent by 2041, while the proportion of older people in Northern Ireland will jump from 14 per cent to 24 per cent,” he said.

According to the Centre for Ageing Research and Development in Ireland (Cardi), the organisers of the conference, we can expect to see a jump of 140 per cent of people aged 65 and over in developing countries by 2030.

There are three major economic challenges that come with an ageing global population, the conference will be told: supporting older people in retirement; healthcare; and long-term care.

Pensions are expected to be the largest expenditure item for countries that provide them, rising from current levels to about 3 per cent of GDP by 2050.

Healthcare costs for older people in the Republic are projected to rise from 6.2 per cent in 2010 to 11.4 per cent by 2050. This will be largely because of an increase in noncommunicable diseases, such as heart disease, cancer and diabetes.

The average cost of long-term care for older people is projected to increase by 1.3 per cent of GDP by 2050 for a typically advanced country. In the Republic, the cost is projected to increase from 0.9 per cent of GDP now to 1.8 per cent of GDP in 2050.

Key conference themes and original international research include dealing with dementia, meeting the demographic challenge of global ageing, the politics of ageing and social inequalities, and their impact on ageing and age-related disease.

Among the keynote speakers are Anne Martin-Matthews, professor of sociology at University of British Columbia, Canada, and Michael Marmot, professor of epidemiology and public health at University College London and chairman of the World Health Organisation commission on social determinants.

Ageing globally – ageing locally: planning all of our futures will take place in Croke Park on Wednesday and Thursday.