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World Population Boom

Growth is estimated to reach over 7 billion

The world's population has exploded in the last 50 years with unprecedented growth that will catapult our numbers over the 7 billion mark this fall. But birthrates aren't up, longevity is. With life expectancy rising, a global aging trend — accompanied by social, economic and political consequences — is here to stay.

See also: How long will you live?

Global Aging

Average life expectancy for a human being born today is 67.6 years. In 1950 it was 46.6 years; in 2050 it will be 75.5.

People 60+ will outnumber those under 15 for the first time in 2045.

35.6 million people have dementia today, a number projected to grow to 65.7 million in 2030 and 115.4 million by 2050.

Past & Future

Earth is now home to some 7 billion people — that's almost triple the population of 1950. By 2050, the 60+ population will grow from over 750 million to 2 billion, and rise from 10.7% to 22% of people on the planet.

Illustration of aging population - the past 50 years have seen the fastest ever rate of growth for global population

Illustration by David Coulson

Gender Gaps

The ratio of women to men age 60+ is 100 to 83.

That means there are 66 million more women age 60+ than men in the world.

Eighty percent of men age 60+ are married, but only 48% of older women are.

Nineteen percent of older women live alone; just 9% of older men do.

This translates to 33 older men living without a spouse per 100 older women in the same situation.

Economic Status

Today 64% of people 60+ live in less developed countries. By 2050, it will be 80%.

The number of older poor will grow from 342 million today to 1.2 billion in 2050.

People 65+ are more likely to be retired if living in a more developed country rather than a less developed one (women 92% vs. 81% ; men 86% vs. 65%).

Oldest Old

The number of people 100+ will increase 900% between now and 2050, from 455,000 to 4.1 million.

Women make up 81% of the world's centenarians.

Among those 60+, the fastest-growing population is the oldest old — that is, those age 80 and older. That group is growing 4% annually.

Sources: United Nations Population Division; U.S. Census; National Geographic, Jan. 2011; World Bank; Alzheimer's Disease International

Also of interest: Oldest Camaro owner enjoying life in fast lane. >>

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