Population aging in Africa

21-Jun-2011    A recent study by Dr. Benoît Kasala, representative of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), investigates the consequences of population aging in Africa.

In his paper, titled ‘Population and Ageing in Africa: a Policy Dilemma?’, Dr. Kasala concludes that population aging is often accompanied by persistent poverty, and that African governments have no budget planned for supporting the growing group of older people in Africa.

The population change expected to occur in Africa between 1950 and 2050 is the highest among all regions in the world. Compared to 1999, the number of older people in Africa is expected to increase between seven and eight times in 2050. According to Dr. Kasala’s study, especially Northern Africa shows a dramatic development in which the population older than 60 years is expected to be around 20 per cent in 2050.

The big difference between the demographic developments occurring in both established and emerging economies is that these developments will proceed much more rapidly in emerging economies than they did in the established ‘Western’ economies. Although Africa will remain to be a relative young continent, it is clearly reflected that while its young dependency burden will be reduced by 57 percent, its old age dependency burden will increase by 93 percent between 1995 and 2050.

Due to the absence of public-funded social security schemes, older people in Africa still rely on their family, which provides security and shelter. However, these traditional safety nets have however become far less certain due to the process of urbanization, in which young people migrate to cities separating them from their families, the impact of the HIV/Aids epidemic and the aftermath of the global economic crisis.

These processes have impact on the growing number of elderly people, and especially older women. Dr. Kasala provides a comprehensive overview of the different policy measures undertaken by African countries that are aimed at improving the situation of current and future older people He concludes that development programmes in poor countries have ignored population aging with failing to emphasize the rights of older people and their need for income, housing, health care, and security.


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Population and Ageing in Africa: a Policy Dilemma?

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