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20 Countries with the Oldest Populations in the World

In this article, we are going to discuss the 20 countries with the oldest populations in the world. You can skip our detailed analysis of the implications of an aging population on the economy, the global longevity economy, and workplaces that embrace older employees, and go directly to 5 Countries with the Oldest Populations in the World

For almost all of human history, the Earth’s population has skewed younger. But a major shift has occurred since 2018, and for the first time ever, there are more people on our planet over the age of 65 than there are children under the age of 5. This aging is the result of a continued decline in fertility rates and increased life expectancy. Consequently, compared to 2017, the number of persons aged 60 or above is expected to more than double by 2050 and more than triple by 2100, rising from 962 million globally in 2017, to 2.1 billion in 2050, and 3.1 billion by 2100. 

Though a longer life span, particularly a healthy one, is viewed as an enormous gain for human welfare, it comes with its own set of challenges – shifting disease burden, increased expenditure on health and long-term care, labor-force shortages, dissaving, potential problems with old-age income security, and many more. 

Implications of an Aging Population on the Economy: 

An aging population affects economies in many ways – the growth of GDP slows, there is a shortage of a skilled labor force, working-age people pay more to support the elderly, and public budgets strain under the burden of the higher total cost of health and retirement programs for old people. 

However, new research suggests that an aging population could also, in fact, be good for economic growth, thanks in part to automation and technology. Economists from the prestigious MIT hypothesize that as populations age, businesses are more likely to adopt new technology that helps boost productivity. They argue that as the population ages, the number of working-age people declines relative to demand, which in turn causes an uptick in wages. These higher wages can then incentivize businesses to invest in technology and digitize most of their process, thus boosting productivity to such an extent that it even offsets the reduction in economic growth from the older population, or might even overwhelm it and cause an economic upswing. 

The Global Longevity Economy: 

Longevity economy is a concept that people living healthier, longer lives than previously have the potential to, in fact, be positive for the economy, thus offsetting the negative economic effects of an aging society. A key goal for the longevity economy is to raise employment over the life course, which in turn will require boosting human capital and productivity as older workers seek to maintain their skills for longer. An important component of boosting employment is the extension of working lives. Estimates for the U.K. suggest that a 1-year extension of working life also causes a GDP growth of 1%, and hence we’ve seen several countries around the world implement plans to raise the retirement age for their people. 

By 2015, there were more than 1.6 billion people in the world who were part of the 50-plus cohort and this number is expected to double to nearly 3.2 billion by 2050. The global longevity economy consists of the vast economic impact of people aged 50 and over – within and across nations – driving the GDP growth, job creation, and income generation. According to AARP, people aged 50 and over contributed $45 trillion to global GDP in 2020, and by 2050, their contribution is expected to more than double to $118 trillion.

Workplaces that Embrace Older Employees: 

Although employers regularly tend to overlook the resumes of middle-aged and older applicants, some companies understand and appreciate the value, wisdom, and insight older workers can bring to the workforce – like being great mentors, or even mentees. 

The American Association of Retired Persons Employer Pledge Program is a nationwide group of employers that stand with AARP in affirming the value of experienced workers and are committed to developing diverse organizations. MGM Resorts International (NYSE:MGM) is a global entertainment company with national and international locations featuring best-in-class hotels and casinos, state-of-the-art meetings and conference spaces, incredible live and theatrical entertainment experiences, and an extensive array of restaurant, nightlife, and retail offerings. The Las-Vegas based company signed the AARP Employer Pledge in 2018, signaling to the communities in which it operates that it values and hires experienced workers. Michelle DiTondo, Chief Human Resources Officer for MGM Resorts International (NYSE:MGM), said: 

“Hiring people of all ages, and from all walks of life and backgrounds, makes us a stronger team. We recognize the value of life experience within our workforce and appreciate the mentoring and guidance that can be provided by a more mature employee. We are proud to stand with the AARP and reinforce our commitment to recruit employees of all ages and backgrounds.”

MGM Resorts International (NYSE:MGM) ranks among the Most Valuable Gambling Companies in the World

Several employers have also started offering a novel benefit to their elder workforce – grandparent leave, or paid time off to employees upon the birth or adoption of a grandchild. Telecom giant Cisco Systems, Inc. (NASDAQ:CSCO) first introduced grandparent leave in 2017, after revamping its regular parental leave policy to be more gender inclusive, and offer more robust paid time off to caregivers. Over 30% of Cisco Systems, Inc. (NASDAQ:CSCO)’s roughly 40,000-strong U.S. employee base is over age 50, and to help employees celebrate and support their loved ones during this special time, Cisco grandparents can take up to three paid days off within one year of the arrival of a new grandchild. More than 800 U.S. employees of the company have taken leave since the start of 2021, including over 200 who’ve used it so far this year. 

Cisco Systems, Inc. (NASDAQ:CSCO) is counted among the High Dividend Stocks Picked by Billionaire Ray Dalio

With that said, here are the Countries with the Oldest Populations in 2023

20 Countries with the Oldest Populations in the World
20 Countries with the Oldest Populations in the World

Copyright: auremar / 123RF Stock Photo

Methodology: 

To collect data for this article, we have referred to the World Population Prospects 2022 by the UN Population Division, looking for Countries with the Most Aged Populations. The following countries have been ranked by the percentages of their population aged 65+. When two countries had the same percentage, we ranked them by their respective numbers of people aged 65+ instead.

If you’re also curious about which countries have the youngest populations, here are the Countries with the Youngest People in the World.  

20. Spain

Percentage of Population Aged 65+: 19.1%

A Mediterranean diet is the major reason why people live so long in Spain. Rich in olive oil, nuts, fresh fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, this diet offers many health benefits, from improving heart health to mental well-being. The average life expectancy in Spain, as of 2021, is 83 years. 

Spain is ranked among the Countries with the Healthiest Diets

19. Malta

Percentage of Population Aged 65+: 19.2%

Not only do Maltese men and women live longer, they also enjoy close to 90% of their lifespan in good health. In fact, according to the University of Malta, Maltese men were found, on average, to live 72.6 healthy years, with women spending an average of 74.6 years in good health. 

Malta sits among the Countries with the Oldest Population

18. Hungary

Percentage of Population Aged 65+: 19.3%

The over-65 age demographic in Hungary now numbers almost 1.9 million people, around 1.3 million of whom live with some form of disability. However, the Hungarian state currently only spends about 0.4% of GDP on care for the elderly, with a minimal year-on-year increase. The number of professional carers is also declining in the Central European country, as wages in the social sector are the lowest in the entire national economy. 

17. Slovenia

Percentage of Population Aged 65+: 19.6%

Slovenia has an average life expectancy of 81 years, which is significantly higher than its neighboring countries of Croatia, Bosnia, and Hungary. Slovenia’s population of about 2 million is aging rapidly, mainly as a result of longer life expectancy and a decrease in birth rates among younger generations. In the period 2013-2060, the share of people aged 80+ in the Slovene population is expected to grow from 4.5% to 12.3%. 

16. Denmark

Percentage of Population Aged 65+: 19.6%

The average life expectancy in Denmark has been on an upward trajectory since the 1990s, mainly due to the general improvements in public health and advanced healthcare options in the country. In January 2021, a new sectorial organization was introduced by the government of Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen, as the elderly area was moved to the Ministry of Social Affairs, now called The Danish Ministry of Social Affairs and Senior Citizens. The goal was to reinforce the link between the important welfare services in the municipalities.

Denmark is placed among the Countries with the Most Aged Population

15. Czech Republic

Percentage of Population Aged 65+: 19.6%

The Czech Republic is rapidly aging and it is expected that the 65+ segment of the population is set to grow to one-third of the entire Czech society in the second half of this century. Like many other European countries, the Czech Republic uses a Pay As You Go (PAYG) pension system, in which current employees contribute and the funds are automatically redistributed to pensioners. However, this system becomes precarious and loss-making if there are more pensioners than contributors, which could pose a serious problem for the Central European country in the future. 

14. Estonia

Percentage of Population Aged 65+: 19.8%

Estonia has a shrinking and aging population. The country’s total population, which amounted to 1.32 million in 2019, has been shrinking by 15% since its independence in 1991. Similarly, the total share of the population aged above 65 was 15% in 2003, now increased to 19.8%. As a result, Estonia’s elderly are constantly faced with problems such as an unnecessary division of resources within the system, a lack of geriatric medicine, a nursing health care system in its infancy, long waiting lists, and high cost of drugs.

Estonia sits among the Most Health-Conscious Countries in the World

13. Lithuania

Percentage of Population Aged 65+: 19.8%

According to the European Commission, the working life in Lithuania should be increased to 72 years over the coming two decades. While it is not the same as retirement age, it would mean pursuing policies that would encourage people to work longer and retire later. 

According to Bogulsavas Gruževskis, director of the Vilnius-based Centre of Social Research, there will be 50 retirees per 100 working people in Lithuania in the near future – a situation that will have crucial implications for public finances and may thus require raising taxes.

Lithuania is counted among the Countries with the Oldest People

12. Sweden

Percentage of Population Aged 65+: 19.9%

Because Sweden has one of the best social welfare and healthcare systems in the world, people live longer and therefore 20% of the population does not generate income or pay taxes from their salary. So the two possible solutions to prevent the economy from slowing down are increased immigration and a rise in births. 

The Suedes’ longevity is also due in part to the Scandinavian country’s commitment to environmental cleanliness and the high-quality drinking water it provides to its citizens. 

11. Serbia

Percentage of Population Aged 65+: 20.2%

Due to its low birth rate and the high number of people leaving the country, Serbia ranks among the Countries with the Oldest Populations. A pressing issue for the Balkan country is the highly educated labor force leaving Serbia for better opportunities abroad – an annual exodus of approximately 51,000 people, with most of them being young. 

10. Latvia

Percentage of Population Aged 65+: 20.3%

Unlike many countries in Western Europe, Latvia is aging not because of large life expectancy gains, but because of an ever-shrinking younger generation. High emigration and low fertility is leading to an increase in the average age in society, and according to Eurostat data, more than 45% of Latvia's population is expected to be aged 50 or above by 2030. 

Latvia sits among the Top 10 Oldest Countries in the World

9. France

Percentage of Population Aged 65+: 20.3%

A big reason why the French live so long is the country’s excellent healthcare system that covers everyone who is resident here, so there's no barrier to treatment if people need it. France has recently made headlines due to the massive protests by the people, which have often also turned violent, as a result of President Emmanuel Macron enacting controversial new reforms that have raised the retirement age from 62 to 64. This raise will make workers put more money into the system, which the government says is on course to run a deficit. 

8. Croatia

Percentage of Population Aged 65+: 20.4%

Since Croatia joined the E.U. in mid-2013, there has been significant migration of young, skilled labor force from the Republic of Croatia to other countries in the Union. The Balkan country is also notorious for its infamously small pensions, and a person who earned relatively good money each month unfortunately still naturally expects a huge drop when retirement age comes knocking. According to the Croatian Pension Insurance Institute, in April 2019, 457,365 retirees received a pension of less than HRK 2,000, which amounts to about $281. 

Croatia is ranked among the Oldest Countries in the World by Age of Population

7. Bulgaria

Percentage of Population Aged 65+: 21.3%

Bulgaria is heading for the steepest drop in the working-age population for any country, and this will impose a heavy burden on the national economy. The Southeastern European country's old-age dependency ratio – the share of elderly in the total population – is expected to double over the next four decades. However, Bulgaria could address this challenge by implementing policies related to healthy, active, and productive aging.

6. Germany

Percentage of Population Aged 65+: 21.4%

Germany is known for its high standard of living and, with that, one of the longest life spans globally. The number of people at retirement age (67 years or over) in the country will rise to at least 20 million until the middle of the 2030s, and as a result, Germany will spend 12.5% of its GDP on public pensions by 2050, against the average of 10% in the OECD.

Click to continue reading and see the 5 Countries with the Oldest Populations in the World.

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Disclosure: None. 20 Countries with the Oldest Populations in the World is originally published on Insider Monkey.