Reduced infant mortality rates and increased life expectancies are two of many reasons for an ageing population explored within a Curtin researcher’s new book Geographies of Ageing: Social Processes and the Spatial Unevenness of Population.
Curtin University research fellow Dr Amanda Davies has examined the reasons why countries are experiencing population growth and the implications this will have for their societies.
Dr Davies’ book found population ageing was a significant problem for most countries and that a growing population would continue to put pressure on existing health care and welfare systems.
“Population ageing is the most significant demographic challenge facing many countries across the world,” Dr Davies said.
“The current rate of population ageing is unprecedented in human history with world population projections indicating this will be an enduring trend.
“Importantly, not all places are ageing at the same rate and this has implications for the security of the labour force and the demand on health care and welfare systems, as well as implications for the social and cultural stability of places.”
Dr Davies found population ageing was caused by a number of factors including reduced infant mortality rates and new medical technologies.
Dr Davies expressed concern for China’s growing population and what this could mean for Australia.
“In China there are currently over 111 million people aged 65+, with numbers expected to increase to 350 million by 2050,” Dr Davies said.
“Australia and the rest of Asia could be faced with serious economic implications if China’s population continues to age at an extremely rapid rate.”
Unlike Europe, that has a population of more than 20per cent aged 65+, Dr Davies says Australia has a more moderate population age.
Dr Davies also expressed concern for the future as the world passed a population of seven billion people this week.
“What is significant about this is that, given the current rate of population growth, the United Nations predict that in just 20 years time the world will need to produce approximately 40 per cent more fresh food and water,” Dr Davies said.
“Given that the world has an ageing population, proportionally fewer people will be of working age to produce the extra resources needed.”
Geographies of Ageing: Social Processes and the Spatial Unevenness of Population includes a selection of research and case studies from the US, UK and Australia and can be found on Amazon.