The world's population will age dramatically over the next 300 years as average longevity increases, according to new projections by the United Nations' Department of Economic and Social Affairs.
By 2300, female life expectancy in the more developed regions, including the United States, is projected to be 103 years, and that of males is predicted to be 100. In the less developed regions, life expectancies are projected to be 96 years for females and 95 years for males.
The study proposes a range of population scenarios, based on projected fertility levels. In the medium variant, considered most likely, the number of people aged 60 years or over would rise from the current 10 percent of the world population to 38 percent in 2300. An even more dramatic change would occur in the numbers of those 80 or over. While this group currently makes up one percent of the population, nearly one in five humans will likely be over age 80 by 2300. By 2300, the number of centenarians '“ those over age 100 -- is projected to be 162 million, or nearly 2 per cent of the world population.
"These changes suggest that the society of the future will have to value more the contributions of its older members so as to ensure that they remain active and engaged for most of their lengthy life spans," the report states.
They may also have to work longer. This significant aging of world population would mean a large increase in the dependency ratio, the number of dependents (those under age 15 or over 59) divided by the working age population (those aged 15 to 59). In the medium scenario, the dependency ratio will rise from 0.7 in 2000 to 1.1 in 2300, meaning that there will be more than one dependent for every person of working age. As a consequence, working ages will have to be extended well beyond age 60, the report suggests.
For more on the UN report, World Population in 2300, click here.