Declining birth rates, rising divorce rates and increasing life expectancy are among the many factors changing demographics around the world. In fact, many countries are experiencing an overall aging population. According to a 2019 World Bank study, the following countries have the oldest populations.
Just over 21% of Bulgarians are aged 65 and over, which contributes both to the general aging of the population and to one of the fastest depopulation in all of Europe. As a result of the death rate among the elderly and the flight of young people from the country, dissatisfied with corruption and poor life prospects, the population of Bulgaria, which in the 1980s was 9 million people, is expected to decrease to 5.4 million people in 2050.
With a fifth of the country’s population aged at least 65, Germany’s rate of population aging has accelerated since the start of the 21st century. Longer life expectancy and declining birth rates due to ineffective family policies are still among the main causes of this demographic trend.
About 22% of the population of Greece is aged 65 and over. In fact, since 2010, Greece’s population has been steadily aging, with a 3.7% decline between 1 January 2011 and 1 January 2020, mainly due to the decline in birth rates caused by the economic crisis. Not only are women having children at a later age, but families are having fewer offspring due to the cost and lack of social welfare measures.
More than a fifth of Finland’s population is aged 65 or over. This country is considered one of the happiest in the world, so it is not surprising that Finns enjoy a longer life expectancy. In fact, Finland’s population is both rapidly aging and with a declining birth rate. To counter this trend, the government has introduced fertility-friendly measures that have actually improved birth rates since the start of the coronavirus pandemic.
Not only is over 22% of Portugal’s population aged 65 or over, but the country’s population has declined by 2% over the past decade. Portugal’s population is aging rapidly, in part due to the lack of jobs for the country’s young people, prompting them to seek opportunities abroad. By 2050, Portugal is expected to have over 10,000 centenarians, more than double the 4,000 thousand centenarians currently living in the country.
Twenty-three percent of Italy’s population is aged 65 or over, making it the second-oldest nation in the world and the oldest in Europe. Of course, the global trend of declining birth rates among developed countries is to blame for this, but many of Italy’s young people are also emigrating. Other factors, such as the belief that one must marry before leaving the family home, the lack of financial aid for students and poor support for pregnant women, also explain Italy’s declining birth rate.
With an average age of 48, Japan is the country with the most aging population in the world. In fact, a quarter of the country’s population (28%) is aged 65 or over, with this proportion expected to rise to 38% by 2050. Declining birth rates combined with increased life expectancy in recent decades are at the heart of this demographic trend. In fact, by 2050, the number of working people is expected to equal that of retirees! Interestingly, while marriage is still highly valued in Japanese culture, marriage there continues to decline. In addition, only 2% of births occur outside of marriage, and about a quarter of Japanese people do not marry until the age of 50, which is another explanation for the declining birth rate.