The ageing future
Since 1950, the world’s population has almost tripled. All of us are living longer than any generation in human history In the year 2000 there were 100,000 people around the planet who were 100 years old or more. Yet, when they were born, before aeroplanes and antibiotics and atom bombs, before cars and computers, there were very few centenarians anywhere in the world. Now millions of people will live into their 70s, 80s, and 90s, and centenarians will no longer be rare. Advances in medicine and public sanitation mean that infectious diseases no longer kill millions of children and aldults as they did in the past. Healthier food and better health care have made stronger, fitter bodies. Average life expectancy has gone up by 25 years and more in many parts of the world. At the same time the contraceptive pill has had a huge impact on world population levels since the 1970s. Women are having fewer babies and more people are living longer, so the balance between the number of young and old people in the population is changing dramatically. According to the OECD, over next 25 years the number of persioners will rise by 70 milion, while the working age population will rise by only 5 million. But this is good news rather than bad. To be old is not to be ill. Studies have shown that healthy food and regular physical exercise keep mind and body young, and that it’s never too late to start getting fit or learning new things. At 72 the remarkable Helen Klein successfully completed the first Eco – Challenge, a 480 kilometre desert adventure race with swimming, canoeing, white-water rafting, running, horse-riding, and rock climbing. Many older people are active, productive, and useful. Freer than they have ever been, they are not retired from life but actively part of it. There will be millions more like them in the future, as the most privileged generations that have ever lived find they,too,grow old.
OECD= Organization for Economic Co-operation and...
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