World Population Ageing 2023: Challenges and opportunities of population ageing in the least developed countries

Publication Date:
Category: Population
Number of Pages: 74
Language: English

Population ageing is an inevitable outcome of the demographic transition — the historic shift from higher to lower levels of fertility and mortality that yields a period of rapid population increase and, eventually, an older population that is much larger as a share of the total. While more developed countries have completed or are well advanced in this transition, less and least developed countries (LDCs) are predominantly in the early or middle stages, when the older population is still small but starting to grow. Such countries can anticipate a continuing, gradual increase in both the number and the share of older persons, many of whom will require substantial care and support at some point in their lives. Unfortunately, many LDCs are ill-prepared to offer the essential services and support that will eventually be needed by their ageing populations. 

In anticipation of the progressive ageing of their populations, countries in the early or middle stages of the demographic transition can take advantage of a window of opportunity created by the drop in fertility rates. The decline of fertility during the demographic transition initiates a period in which a country’s working-age population increases as a share of the total. This increase in the relative size of the working-age population boosts the rate of economic growth on a per capita basis and provides an opportunity for LDCs to develop economically before their populations become much older.

World Population Ageing 2023 examines the potential of LDCs to benefit from this demographic dividend. Through an analysis of demographic, social, economic and health-related indicators, as well as associated policies and investments, the report assesses the challenges and opportunities of translating favourable demographic trends into economic and developmental gains. A comparative study of LDCs in the Asia-Pacific region and in Africa, with a focus on Angola, Bangladesh and Rwanda, provides insights into the challenges and opportunities that arise at various stages of the demographic transition. The report concludes by summarizing its key findings and offering policy guidance to help countries maximize the potential benefits of the demographic dividend.