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Ageing populations

One of the Eldis RSS newsfeeds on major development issues

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Fiscal challenges of population aging in Brazil

23 May 2017 11:26:55 GMT

In recent decades, population has been aging fast in Brazil while old age pensions and healthrelated spending have increased. As the population ages, the spending trend threaten to reach unsustainable levels absent reforms. Increasing the retirement age is key, but by itself will not provide sufficient savings to close the pension system financing gap, and reforms reducing replacement rates are necessary. In the area of health, there is scope for improving expenditure efficiency by strengthening outpatient care and regional networks, and developing clinical guidelines for cost-effective treatments and drugs. Reforms are urgent, so that they can be gradual.

Explaining low employment rates among older women in urban China

11 May 2017 11:21:45 GMT

In China, the employment rate among middle-aged and older urban residents is exceptionally low. For example, 27% of 55-64-year-old urban women were in work in 2013, compared to more than 50% in UK, Thailand and Philippines.

This paper investigates potential explanations of this low level of employment in urban China. The author documents the stylised fact that a majority of individuals stop working as soon as they qualify for a public pension, which most often happens at age 50 for women. The paper also highlights the presence of significant amounts of financial and time transfers between generations. The paper offer descriptive evidence that transfers from children are responsive to parental incomes, and that mother’s labour supply is affected by the expectation of transfers from her children. The authors builds and   and calibrates a life-cycle model of labour supply and saving. The paper concludes that both the pension system and transfers from children have large effects on female labour supply. Increasing the female pension age from the status-quo to 60 would raise the employment rate of 50-59 year old women by 28 percentage points.

Transitions in late-life living arrangements and socio-economic conditions of the elderly in Egypt, Jordan and Tunisia

05 May 2017 03:49:24 GMT

Middle East and North Africa’s demographic trends reveal together a growing ageing population and an exceptional growth of the youth population. Increasing elderly population leads to significant consequences for the cost and organisation of health systems. The rise in life expectancy has changed the arrangement of multigenerational families; relationships in ageing families have become more unstable and less predictable.
This paper investigates - in a gender and geographic perspective – differences in the socio-economic situation of the elderly and the determinants of late-life living arrangements in Egypt, Jordan and Tunisia starting from Labor Market Panel Surveys. Results are in line with both the different countries’ stages of the demographic transition and welfare state coverages. The family continues to be the basis for support to older people, as in general in the Arab area. A relevant socio-political group, calling for policy interventions, is represented by the elderly living alone.

Family support for older persons in Thailand: challenges and opportunities

04 Apr 2017 02:29:46 GMT

Population ageing and the wellbeing of older persons are major emerging challenges for families, communities, and government in Thailand as in much of Asia. Traditionally, support and care for the elderly are met within the family. Adult children are important providers of material support as well as other forms of assistance to their older-age parents. The state and communities typically provide limited care services for the older population. Currently, Thailand is facing demographic and socioeconomic changes that pose significant challenges for the roles that family members, especially adult children, play in providing support for the elderly.

The Thai government has been giving very serious attention to population ageing issues. This was clearly indicated by the adoption of the Second National Plan for Older Persons covering 2002-2021, the prominence of aging issues in the 2012-16 National Economic and Social Development Plan, and a 2015 establishment of the Department of Older Persons with expanded authority to carry out programs to support elderly Thais. Importantly, the Old Age Allowance program was expanded in 2009 into a universal social pension for persons aged 60 and older who lacked other pension coverage. At the same time, there has been a significant increase in public awareness regarding population ageing in the last decade. Furthermore, efforts to strengthen community support for older persons have also
arisen in various parts of the country.
The key objective of this position paper is to empirically examine how family cares for older persons in various aspects (such as material and social support as well as personal care) and what challenges and opportunities are facing the family.

The position paper is organised into the following sections: 1) demographics of ageing; 2) availability of children and old-age living arrangements; 3) material support for older persons; 4) social support; 5) personal care support; 6) older persons’ contributions and; 7) discussion and conclusion; 8) policy recommendations.

Older people in situations of migration In Africa: the untold migration story

28 Mar 2017 03:18:51 GMT

Older people in Africa are involved in all aspects of the migration chain: they are voluntary or forced migrants themselves, they shape the migration experience of others by funding youth migration and being involved in the decision-making process, they also benefit from remittances. Yet, they remain invisible in migration policy, as well as aid and development planning.

This briefing tells the untold story of older people in the migration ecosystem in Africa. It highlights the importance of including older people in migration policies and practice – whether they are left behind, on the move, or returning to their country of origin. It identifies the key challenges facing this generation, explores policy options and calls for more thorough research to improve understanding of the capabilities and needs of older people in situations of migration in Africa.

Ageing and the city: making urban spaces work for older people

28 Mar 2017 02:51:20 GMT

Today, more than half of the world’s population live in cities, with this proportion set to rise to two-thirds by 2050. The global population is also ageing rapidly, with the numbers of people aged over 60 set to pass the 1 billion mark over the next decade. A significant and growing number of the world’s urban residents are older people – more than 500 million. These two trends – urbanisation and population ageing – are occurring most rapidly in low- and middle-income countries.

Research shows that for older people, cities present physical, social and economic barriers that prevent them realising their right to live in dignity and safety, or enjoying their surroundings. Groundbreaking initiatives to make cities more appropriate for older persons, such as the World Health Organization’s Age-friendly Cities and Communities model, have led to improvements in a number of cities.
Physical accessibility is absolutely essential, but thinking beyond this, what makes shared urban spaces and streets truly inclusive and liveable? What is the relationship between our health in older age and the physical, social and economic urban environment? What makes older people living in cities feel vulnerable to crime or disaster, and how does this affect their daily lives or the assistance they receive in times of crisis? These are some of the questions explored by this report.
Focusing on low- and middle-income countries, this report aims to stimulate discussion about some of the actions that governments and city authorities can take to build truly inclusive cities. It draws on the programme experience of the HelpAge International network across a range of settings, including in Kiev (Ukraine), Beirut (Lebanon), Bogotà (Colombia) and Bishkek (Kyrgyzstan).

The research process involved a literature review, engagement with a range of experts and a series of focus group discussions with older women and men in Rio de Janeiro (Brazil), Mexico City (Mexico), Sukkur and Peshawar (Pakistan).
The report concludes that a broad range of interrelated interventions can do much to improve urban environments for older people. HelpAge International calls on governments and city authorities to:
  • create inclusive and enjoyable shared urban spaces that encourage social activity and provide easier access to services and opportunities for all by reducing car use and traffic speeds, promoting walking and cycling, developing dense, mixed-use communities, and supporting those engaged in street-based livelihood activities. This also includes providing green and public spaces that encourage physical activity and social interaction, and increasing public transport provision that is adequate, accessible, safe and accountable
  • promote healthy ageing and tackle the key risk factors linked with urban living by tackling the high rates of non-communicable diseases in cities through awareness raising and encouraging physical activity and healthy eating, reducing air pollution from all sources, and creating communities that support people with dementia
  • help older urban residents feel safe and secure living in a city by involving older people in disaster preparedness planning, promoting better coordination between humanitarian actors and city authorities to ensure the specific needs of older people are met in times of emergency, and recognising the specific challenges facing displaced older people. Also, cities should consider crime, personal safety and security in planning and policy decisions, particularly in streets and shared spaces and on public transport

Africa's prospects for enjoying a demographic dividend

21 Feb 2017 11:19:36 GMT

While fertility rates and dependency ratios in Africa remain high, they have started to decline. According to United Nations projections, they will fall further in the coming decades such that by the mid-21st century the ratio of the working-age to dependent population will be greater than in Asia, Europe, and Northern America. This projection suggests Africa has considerable potential to enjoy a demographic dividend. Whether and when it actually materialises, and also its magnitude, hinges on policies and institutions in key realms that include macroeconomic management, human capital, trade, governance, and labour and capital markets. Given strong complementarities among these areas, coordinated policies will likely be most effective in generating the momentum needed to pull Africa’s economies out of a development trap.

Living arrangements and conditions of older persons in Namibia

21 Feb 2017 10:58:11 GMT

In Africa, ageing is a phenomenon that is just beginning to reveal its shape; at present, it is a family concern. Although sub-Saharan Africa’s older population is not as large in size as in other regions of the world, it must still be considered as a potential cause for concern since Africa is ageing at a time when its resources are being depleted.

In Africa, ageing is a phenomenon that is just beginning to reveal its shape. Most governments, including the Namibian government, recognize the fact that the number of older persons is on the increase, however, discussing it is still a distant phenomenon and family matter. This paper examines the living arrangements of older adults in Namibia, identifying the existing structure of living arrangements and the nature of family relationships of older people, as well as provides some basic descriptive information on the housing conditions in which older persons live and how they are associated with their socioeconomic and demographic factors. The analysis is based on 1991, 2001 and 2011 Namibia Population and Housing Censuses. The study concluded that living arrangements is constantly changing from extended family pattern to western nuclear family, mainly due to urbanisation and decreased fertility rate. Housing conditions had notably improved in rural areas while in urban areas the conditions are affected by the mushrooming of informal settlements. There is need to encourage or conduct focused research on ageing to help coin policies based on evidence and make communities sensitive towards ageing. The study further recommends Government to encourage old people to form organisations that would in turn focus on sensitising and help championing issues of ageing and aged persons.

Inclusive social protection in Latin America: a comprehensive, rights-based approach

21 Feb 2017 01:32:31 GMT

Owing to continuing severe problems in Latin America, including poverty, inequality, vulnerability, unemployment and informal employment, which worsened during the crisis of late 2008 and early 2009, Latin American countries must be urged strenuously to strengthen their social protection systems and to extend them to include those that are currently excluded, as advocated by previous ECLAC documents.
Boosting social protection helps to build fairer and more inclusive societies where all citizens can enjoy their economic, social and cultural rights. To achieve this, it is necessary to influence income distribution and invest in human capability. When countries succeed in harnessing the human capability of their citizens throughout their lifetimes, the gains in terms of productivity and social cohesion can be enormous.
This book aims to encourage dialogue on social protection in Latin America. It highlights the need for innovation in designing policies and instruments, as well as in management, in order to build comprehensive systems that provide inclusive social protection for all citizens.
Even though social protection has become one of the pillars of social development strategies, in Latin America there is no consistent standard. Instead, social protection has been approached in different ways and from different analytical and policy standpoints.

This book examines the principal ongoing discussions regarding social protection and co-responsibility transfer programmes, looks at the role assigned to them, identifies current policies in this field and weighs the conceptual elements, the needs and the challenges to be addressed in order to consolidate comprehensive social protection systems. The book examines the main approaches informing their design and implementation, performance and gaps in existing protection, as well as the changes that a number of countries are making to secure effective and sustainable management in this area.

Work, family and social protection: old age income security in Bangladesh, Nepal, the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam

17 Feb 2017 12:45:16 GMT

How does growing older affect a person’s income security in Asia? This question is becoming increasingly urgent in the context of rapid population ageing in the region, yet relatively limited comparative analysis has tried to answer it. This report aims to fill the gap by providing a comparative investigation of the income security of older people in five Asian countries that have diverse contexts; namely, Bangladesh, Nepal, the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam.

The report paints a picture of the multiple sources of income that contribute to income security in old age and how they interact. This has been done by mining existing survey data in each country to explore three key sources of income for older people: work, transfers from family and social protection. This marks a departure from most previous analysis of old age income security which has focused on age-disaggregated poverty data – which can only provide a relatively superficial picture of the issue. As well as providing new insights, this study highlights many weaknesses of existing data on ageing and points out opportunities for improvements in data collection and analysis.

Population aging in India: facts, issues, and options

10 Feb 2017 10:58:43 GMT

India, one of the world’s two population superpowers, is undergoing unprecedented demographic changes. Increasing longevity and falling fertility have resulted in a dramatic increase in the population of adults aged 60 and up, in both absolute and relative terms. This change presents wide-ranging and complex health, social, and economic challenges, both current and future, to which this diverse and heterogeneous country must rapidly adapt.
This chapter first lays out the context, scope, and magnitude of India’s demographic changes. It then details the major challenges these shifts pose in the interconnected areas of health, especially the massive challenges of a growing burden of noncommunicable diseases; gender, particularly the needs and vulnerabilities of an increasingly female older adult population; and income security.
This chapter also presents an overview of India’s recent and ongoing initiatives to adapt to population aging and provide support to older adults and their families. It concludes with policy recommendations that may serve as a productive next step forward, keeping in mind the need for urgent and timely action on the part of government, private companies, researchers, and general population.

Fostering inclusive growth in Malaysia

07 Feb 2017 04:10:17 GMT

Malaysia has followed a comparatively equitable development path, largely eliminating absolute poverty and greatly reduced ethnic inequality. Income and wealth inequality have gradually declined since the mid-1970s. With the “people economy” at the centre of Malaysia’s ambition to become a high-income country by 2020, the focus is shifting to the challenges of relative poverty and achieving sustainable improvements in individual and societal well-being through inclusive growth. This shift would be aided by reforms in several policy areas where Malaysia may compare favourably within its region but less so relative to OECD countries. This includes reforms to increase access to quality education, provide comprehensive social protection, raise the labour force participation of women and older persons, maintain universal access to quality public healthcare, improve pension system sustainability and adequacy and
move towards a tax and transfer system that does more for inclusiveness.

New developments in Social Investing by public pensions

29 Nov 2016 10:02:32 GMT

Social investing is the pursuit of environmental, social, and governance (ESG) goals through investment decisions. Public pension funds have been active in this arena since the 1970s, when many divested from apartheid South Africa. They have also aimed to achieve domestic goals, such as promoting union workers, economic development, and homeownership.

In the mid-2000s, the focus shifted to preventing terrorism and gun violence. This effort included “terror-free” investing in response to the Darfur genocide and to weapons proliferation in Iran. And, after mass shootings in Aurora, CO, and Newtown, CT, some public funds shed their holdings in gun manufacturers. Most recently, states have renewed the call to divest from Iran and have increasingly targeted fossil fuels to combat climate change.

This brief provides an update of social investing developments and assesses whether, in this changing environment, public funds should engage in this practice. This assessment addresses two questions:

  • can ESG-screened portfolios meet the same return/risk objectives as non-screened portfolios; and
  • are public plans the right vehicle for advancing ESG goals?

The discussion proceeds as follows. The first section explores trends in social investing and the U.S. Department of Labor’s guidance on this activity. The second section examines recent state divestment efforts. The third section analyzes the economics of social investing. The fourth section outlines the economic, political, and legal complications. The final section concludes that although social investing may be worthwhile for private investors, lower returns and fiduciary concerns make public pension funds unsuited for advancing ESG goals.

Population aging in India: facts, issues and options

24 Nov 2016 10:29:28 GMT

India, one of the world’s two population superpowers, is undergoing unprecedented demographic changes. Increasing longevity and falling fertility have resulted in a dramatic increase in the population of adults aged 60 and up, in both absolute and relative terms. This change presents wide-ranging and complex health, social, and economic challenges, both current and future, to which this diverse and heterogeneous country must rapidly adapt.

This paper first lays out the context, scope, and magnitude of India’s demographic changes. It then details the major challenges these shifts pose in the interconnected areas of health, especially the massive challenges of a growing burden of noncommunicable diseases; gender, particularly the needs and vulnerabilities of an increasingly female older adult population; and income security.

The paper also presents an overview of India’s recent and ongoing initiatives to adapt to population aging and provide support to older adults and their families. It concludes with policy recommendations that may serve as a productive next step forward, keeping in mind the need for urgent and timely action on the part of government, private companies, researchers, and general population.

The global demography of aging: facts, explanations, future

24 Nov 2016 10:22:58 GMT

Population ageing is the 21st century’s dominant demographic phenomenon. Declining fertility, increasing longevity, and the progression of large-sized cohorts to the older ages are causing elder shares to rise throughout the world. The phenomenon of population ageing, which is unprecedented in human history, brings with it sweeping changes in population needs and capacities, with potentially significant implications for employment, savings, consumption, economic growth, asset values, and fiscal balance. This chapter provides a broad overview of the global demography of aging. It reviews patterns, trends, and projections involving various indicators of population aging and their demographic antecedents and sequelae. The chapter also reviews theories economists use to explain the behavioral changes driving the most prominent demographic shifts. Finally, it discusses the changing nature of aging, the future of longevity, and associated policy implications, highlighting some key research issues that require further examination.

The exact mix of interventions should be tailored to country contexts and will determine the distribution of costs between current and future cohorts of the elderly. Importantly, the sooner these policy and institutional reforms are considered and implemented, the smoother the transition to a grayer population will be. Although demographic change has historically posed significant challenges and will continue to do so, demography is not destiny. The adaptations that human society and individuals can make in the face of such changes are equally impactful and key to transforming challenges of an ageing population into opportunities for change and growth.


Realising income security in old age: A study into the feasibility of a universal old age pension in Malawi

04 Oct 2016 12:15:51 GMT

Many governments in developing countries are setting up non-contributory programs to assist older people, most of whom are not covered by formal pension schemes. Malawi is no stranger to the international advancement of social security and social protection. That said, further analysis on the implementation and the role of social pensions in tackling old-age poverty was needed to inform government policy and practice.

The aim of the study was to address the knowledge gap of social pension reforms in Malawi. The study examined what has been learned from the programs operating in different African countries, and highlights the key policy and budgetary issues that arise. The study has concluded that social pensions represent an important component of an institutional foundation for old-age social protection.

There are affordable options for Malawi to begin expanding a universal pension in the coming years. Various scenarios exist for universal pensions costing a fraction of GDP, which could be financed through wider efforts to increase revenue for social protection spending. Malawi could then seek to
increase the coverage and adequacy of a universal pension as more revenue can be secured, and as the economy grows.

The path chosen will depend on the political will of the government, but a potential option would be:


  • make a start but introducing a relatively low cost scheme, such as benefit of MWK 3,720 to over 70s (a cost of 0.4 per cent of GDP). This would be in line with current levels of fiscal space, and would also allow for administrative systems to be developed gradually before rolling out to national level
  • as soon as possible, expand the scheme to all older people aged 60 years and over. This would recognise the relatively short life expectancy in Malawi, and that many of the challenges of old age can kick in relatively early
  • in the longer run, move towards a benefit level at the level of the national poverty line (approximately MWK 8,750 in 2016 prices), to ensure that no older person lives in poverty. This higher level of adequacy can be achieved both through growth of the economy, and also by devoting increased revenue to the scheme

Gone with the wind: demographic transitions and domestic saving

30 Sep 2016 09:26:57 GMT

Demographic factors are important determinants of a country’s saving behaviour. In Asia, for example, a favourable demographic transition over the last half century has supported high saving and investment rates.This study explores the relationship between demographic factors and saving rates using a panel dataset covering 110 countries between 1963 and 2012. In line with predictions from theory, this paper finds that lower dependency rates and greater longevity increase domestic saving rates. However, these effects are statistically robust only in Asia. In particular, Latin America, which is a region that has undergone a remarkably similar demographic transition, did not experience the same boost in saving rates as Asia. The paper highlights that the potential dividends arising from a favorable demographic transition are not automatically accrued. This is a sobering message at a time when the demographic tide is shifting in the world.

The Funded Pension Scheme and economic growth in Nigeria

27 Sep 2016 04:57:12 GMT

In Nigeria however, life after retirement is dreaded by most workers. The fears of facing the future after retirement create an ambiance of disturbance among employees. Retirement is seen by workers as a transition that could lead to psychological, physiological and economic problems.

This study provided evidence on the effect of the operation of the funded pension scheme since its inception in 2004 on economic growth in Nigeria using error correction mechanism (ECM) and Ordinary Least Square (OLS) methodologies.

Findings revealed that the pension fund contributions from both private and public sectors in Nigeria increased greatly and constituted a huge investment fund in the capital and money markets. This increased liquidity in the economy and created employment opportunities as well as improvement in the investment climate.

The study concluded that with good risk and portfolio management by pension fund administrators and custodians, the contributory pension has the capacity to boost the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in Nigeria and very convenient to retirees compared to the previous defined benefit scheme.

The study however recommended the removal of delay payment, administrative bottlenecks and corruption in the management of the pension fund in order to boost economic growth in Nigeria.

Subjective well- being of Chinese elderly: a comparative analysis among Urban China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan

23 Sep 2016 11:12:25 GMT

This paper investigates the relative importance of living arrangement and social participation for the elderly’s subjective well-being (happiness) in three Chinese societies (Hong Kong, urban China and Taiwan) with different levels of development. Based on comparable survey data, the authors find that co-residence with children is less closely associated with the elderly’s psychological well-being in the more developed society. The elderly in Hong Kong who live independently with a spouse are in a significantly better emotional state than those living with adult children and grandchildren. Social participation has a greater positive effect on subjective well-being among the aged in Hong Kong than among those in urban China and Taiwan.

Furthermore, elderly women may benefit more from independent living and social engagement than their male counterparts. These findings suggest that encourageing social participation among the elderly may be an effective way to enhance their well-being and achieve active ageing.

The year that shook the rich: a review of natural disasters in 2011

22 Sep 2016 10:56:57 GMT

From the earthquake and tsunami in Japan to fourteen disasters causing over a billion dollars each in damage in the United States, 2011 was particularly damaging for developed countries. Reviewing 2011’s natural disasters, this report analyses the range of disasters and lessons to be learned from those that occurred in developed countries.

Key lessons:

  • 2011 was the most expensive year in terms of disaster losses in history, mostly because of a spate of disasters affecting developed countries. Globally, the economic cost of disasters in 2011 was $380 billion, of which $210 billion were the result of the earthquake and tsunami in Japan. This was 72 percent higher than the losses in 2005, the second costliest year in history of disaster-related losses
  • developed countries were particularly hard-hit by disasters in 2011 as evidenced by floods in Australia, earthquakes in New Zealand, an earthquake/tsunami in Japan and a series of disasters in the United States. While natural disasters result in higher economic losses in rich countries, fewer people tend to be affected and loss of life is less than in developing countries
  • the post-tsunami Fukushima nuclear accident in Japan poses serious questions about preparedness for technological and industrial accidents caused by natural hazards as well as questions about the safety of nuclear technology
  • several positive trends in international humanitarian response were evident in the course of 2011, including promising developments in international disaster law, greater emphasis on disaster risk reduction and preparedness, and better communications during crises, including the use of social media in disaster response
  • the first famine in twenty years was declared in Somalia in mid-2011, demonstrating the deadly interaction of conflict, political instability and drought that can result in a catastrophe with high human casualties
  • the interconnections between disasters (especially mega-disasters), media coverage and humanitarian funding means that humanitarian funding tends to be directed toward disasters that have higher media coverage rather than to those with disaster-affected populations in greater need of assistance
  • global population is ageing at an unprecedented scale and yet the special needs of older people in emergencies are often neglected. In disasters such as the earthquake/tsunami in Japan and Hurricane Katrina, older people made up a disproportionate percentage of casualties. Given the fact that developing countries are also experiencing an increase in the percentage of elderly people, it is likely that a lack of focus on older persons in all phases, from planning to emergency management to post-disaster reconstruction, can result in higher fatalities among older people, long-term chronic health issues, psychosocial trauma and isolation. Treating older people simply as “normal” disaster victims denies
    the specific vulnerabilities that many older people face
  • more work is needed to recognize the positive contributions which older people can make in reducing the risks from disasters, in disaster response and in recovery and reconstruction

Ageing and non-communicable diseases: opportunities for the EU to respond

20 Sep 2016 02:45:54 GMT

The rise in NCDs combined with rapid population ageing presents important challenges for health and care systems globally. Deaths from NCDs are disproportionately concentrated in low- and middle-income countries. As a key player in global health and development, the EU has an important role to play in strengthening the response to NCDs in these countries.

This briefing by HelpAge’s EU network of organisations working with older people discusses NCDs and ageing in the context of sustainable development. It looks at how well the EU’s development policies are currently addressing the interaction between these issues. It sets out concrete opportunities for the EU to develop
age-inclusive development and global health policies that will enable the achievement of the SDGs, particularly Goal 3: Ensure healthy lives and promote wellbeing for all at all ages, and its target on NCDs.

Key messages:

  • Non-communicable diseases (NCDs) are the leading cause of death globally. Almost 75 per cent of these deaths occur in low - and middle income countries. Older people are disproportionately affected
  • global and European Union (EU) responses to NCDs in low- and middle income countries have been inadequate to date, failing to meet the needs of their ageing populations
  • investment in NCD prevention, treatment, management and care for people of all ages is critical to realising the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the commitment to leaving no one behind
  • to enable the EU to play the central role it has identified for itself in advancing progress on global health challenges, including NCDs3, it must pay greater attention to population ageing and NCDs and ensure a fully age-inclusive approach in its global health work, including its implementation of the SDGs


Means testing vs. universal targeting: assumptions of efficiency and affordability

20 Sep 2016 02:37:21 GMT

Whether social protection benefits should be assigned to all (universal) or kept only for those who meet certain criteria (targeting) remains one of the most contentious questions in social policy research. The purpose of this brief is to revisit two social policy assumptions around basic concerns of efficiency, affordability and sustainability of universal social pensions. Contrary to what many international organisations and scholars have argued, this brief forwards that universal social pensions are economically viable and efficient strategies to produce welfare and alleviate older-age income deprivations. The world clearly has the resources to implement basic social pensions on a global scale; the question is if there is also the political will to do it.

Key messages:

  • seventy-nine countries would be economically able to shift from targeted non-contributory pensions to basic universal non-contributory pensions with less than 1.2 per cent of the respective national GDPs
  • sixteen countries have means-tested/regional-tested non-contributory pensions more expensive than a hypothetical basic universal pension
  • an arbitrary threshold of “economic development” is not a limitation for implementing social pensions. At least 16 countries with a relatively low economic development have successfully implemented social pensions without targeting beneficiaries by means
  • universal social pensions are politically and economically viable and are efficient strategies to alleviate income poverty

“If you have only dust in your hands, then friends are far; when they are full, they come closer”: an examination of the impacts of Zambia’s Katete universal pension

21 Jul 2016 12:10:27 GMT

For the past 10 years or so, Zambia has been experimenting with a universal old age pension in the district of Katete, in the east of the country. It has provided a regular pension to 4,500 older people aged over 60 years, 63% of whom were women. The recipients of the pension belong to the Chewa tribe. In 2010, the author undertook a study of the pension and, at the time, it provided people with a regular transfer of 120,0001 Kwacha (around US$23.50) per month. The pension was funded by the United Kingdom’s Department for International Development (DFID) and managed by the Ministry of Community Development and Social Welfare.

The Katete pension has had a transformative impact on the lives of older people, as well as on their wider communities. It has also helped address discrepancies between the ideal and reality with regard to how older people view themselves and how they are viewed by society. It enables older people to delay the inevitable decline into dependency on others and enables them to retain their humanity – as expressed in Chewa ideals – for as long as they can. By maintaining active mutual sharing and caring relations, they keep kinship and love alive. The pension has particularly positive benefits for those that have been marginalised in old age to re-incorporate themselves within intimate communities, which offer them care, respect and support, which they, because of their possession of cash, can reciprocate.Moving towards a much simpler universal pension, as in Katete, would make a lot of sense. The vast majority of older people in Zambia live in poverty and attempting to exclude the richest appears to add little – if any – value, in particular when they cannot be accurately identified. Furthermore, it would be preferable to provide the benefit as an individual entitlement so that households with more than one older person can receive multiple benefits. If not, households may be encouraged to split while particularly vulnerable households – with more than one older person (or person with a severe disability) – could receive a higher income, which they surely need.

Demographic changes and fiscal policy in MENA countries

21 Jul 2016 02:50:43 GMT

Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region countries have unique demographic characteristics. Within the MENA region, Arab countries have higher fertility and population growth rates and a significantly younger age structure than other ountries and regions. This can be a “demographic gift or a demographic curse” depending on whether the high population growth and fertility can be transformed into economic growth.

In this study, the author examines the links between demographic change and fiscal policy in MENA countries, focusing specifically on the economic impacts coming from the conflict between social security and education, which are two of the most government programs in any country. The paper is unique as it incorporates a political economy model of education given expected increases in social security spending in the background. Labor movements and growth results are expected to depend significantly on the return to education. A sensitivity analysis on the parameter that shows the return to education spending reveals that MENA countries would suffer significantly from a lower return to education. 

This scenario highlights the importance of returns to education for the growth results in the MENA region. It is also important to note that the MENA region could potentially experience significant positive economic growth if it can maintain a high return to education and also attract more capital, despite a rising fiscal burden coming from the social security system. 

Community-based social protection in the dry zone

14 Jul 2016 01:57:44 GMT

HelpAge International (Myanmar Country Office), with funding from LIFT donor consortium, has embarked on a three-year project to expand social protection to vulnerable households in Myanmar’s central dry zone. The project seeks to strengthen community and government capacity to protect vulnerable groups such as disabled and older people, and will deliver cash benefits to vulnerable households. As part of the project, HelpAge also seeks to enhance informal and community‐based systems and practices that are already working to provide support and assistance in the dry zone. To inform project activities and  discussions of social protection generally, this research was undertaken to investigate community‐based mechanisms, structures, and practices in dry zone villages that might be providing forms of social protection for vulnerable people living in these communities.


  • there is real need in dry zone communities that is not being met through current informal and community‐based practices. Cash transfers will reduce vulnerability and, if administered sensitively, should strengthen existing informal systems
  • principles of social hierarchy will structure villagers’ interpretations of cash benefits: these are likely to be treated as a form of patronage, perhaps entailing return obligations
  • to select beneficiaries, it would be most straightforward to rely on categories that villagers have already identified as people deserving of assistance: the elderly and those with disabilities. Poverty targeting is not recommended, at least not until villagers become more familiar with the principles of social protection
  • high‐status individuals should be advisors for the program. Perhaps the village administrator and/or the sayadaw (senior monk) could make case‐by‐case decisions about extending grants to those in situations of extreme vulnerability or destitution, assuming the role of patron. They already play that role to some extent
  • expanding the amounts and extending the repayment periods for no‐interest loans would be helpful for vulnerable people who are afraid to take loans because they cannot repay. I do not recommend setting up more revolving loan funds, as these seem to encourage indebtedness



Old-Age pension and extended families: how is adult children's internal migration affected?

12 Jul 2016 01:24:35 GMT

Old-age pension programs targeting the elderly may eventually benefit their extended families. However, no consensus has been reached on the growing body of literature that examines the potential impact of old-age pension on migration decisions of extended families.

This paper makes use of the most recent social pension reform in rural China to examine whether receipt of the pension payment equips adult children of pensioners to migrate. Employing a regression discontinuity (hereafter RD) design to a primary longitudinal survey, this paper overcomes challenges in the literature that households eligible for pension payment might be systematically different from ineligible households and that it is difficult to separate the effect of pension from that of age or cohort heterogeneity.

Around the pension eligibility age cut-off, results reveal large and significant increase among adult sons (but not daughters) to migrate out of their home county. Meanwhile, adult children are more likely to migrate out if their parents are healthy. Fuzzy RD estimations survive a standard set of key placebo tests and robustness checks.

Ageing in the Caribbean and the human rights of older persons: Twin imperatives for action

12 Jul 2016 01:15:54 GMT

Over the next twenty years, the Caribbean will see a rapid and dramatic ageing of its population. Over this period, the number of older persons will double: the number of persons aged 60 and over will increase from 1.1 million (or 13 per cent of the population) in 2015 to 2 million (or 22 per cent) in 2035.

The number of people aged 70 and over will increase from 500,000 (or 6 per cent) to 1 million (or 11 per
cent). The population will continue to age after 2035 albeit at a slowly diminishing rate. Over the next twenty years and beyond, all Caribbean countries and territories will see rapid ageing and significant increases in the proportion of older persons in their respective populations.
This study addresses the ageing of the Caribbean population and the situation with respect to the human
rights of older persons. It considers the implications for public policy of these ‘twin imperatives for action’. The first chapter describes and explains the changing age structure of the Caribbean population. Important features of the ageing dynamic, such as differential regional and national trends and the growing number of ‘older old’ persons, are also analysed.

The study then describes the progress that has been made in advancing and clarifying the human rights of older persons in international law. The core of the study then consists of an assessment of the current situation of older persons in the Caribbean and the extent to which their human rights are realised in practice. The thematic areas of economic security, health, and enabling environments – which roughly correspond to the three priority areas of the Madrid International Plan of Action on Ageing – are each addressed in individual chapters. These chapters evaluate national policies and  programmes for older persons and make public policy recommendations
intended to protect and fulfil the human rights of older persons. The report concludes by summarising
the priorities for future action both through the establishment of new international human rights
instruments as well as national policies and programmes.

Labor market effects of pension reform: an overlapping generations general equilibrium model applied to Tunisia

08 Jul 2016 12:16:47 GMT

The problem of the sustainability of pay-as-you-go systems is becoming a serious concern for developing countries characterised by rapid demographic transitions and this problem will grow exponentially if nothing is done in the near future. Tunisia is a good example since its pension system has been in deficit since 2000 for the public sector fund and 2002 for the private one. According to the Tunisian National Statistical Institute (2009), the share of retirees in the population will increase from 10% in 2010 to 20% in 2034 due to the rapid ageing of the population. The increase in the dependency rate puts a heavy pressure on the financial viability of the social security system. This issue is becoming highly sensitive in the Tunisian public debate.
This paper develops an overlapping general equilibrium framework to capture the interactions among pension reform, labour market and inter-generational distribution issues in Tunisia. The impact on the labour market is addressed at the aggregate level but also by distinguishing different age categories. The three reform scenarios implemented to reduce the social security deficit consist in increasing social security contributions, reducing the replacement rate and postponing the retirement age.
The main result obtained is that increasing contribution rates is the worst solution in terms of welfare and unemployment, particularly for the youth. The best option is postponing the retirement age. Contrary to the traditional wisdom, it does not entail an increase of youth unemployment. For the two scenarios where aggregate welfare increases, the middle -aged are those that benefit the most from the reforms.

Social security reform and economic modeling capacity building in Indonesia

21 Jun 2016 02:13:22 GMT

Since 1999, economic growth and the rise of the services sector in urban areas have contributed to reducing poverty in Indonesia. While official poverty is relatively low at 12% (30 million persons), an additional 27% of the population (65 million persons) live just above the poverty line and small shocks can drive them back into poverty. These poor and vulnerable people face high food price risks (especially for rice); are highly exposed to health shocks; and are either unemployed or employed in low-skilled, low- productivity sectors. However, many individuals, mostly in the vulnerable category, have inadequate or no access to social protection services.

Key points:

  • the right to social security for all is enshrined in the Constitution since 2002. However, the social security system has had limited coverage, especially of the poor and the informal sector.
  • in 2004, Law No. 40 on National Social Security System (SJSN Law) mandated the extension of social security coverage to the entire population. In 2011, Law No. 24 regarding Social Security Administrators (BPJS Law) stipulated two administrative bodies to implement social security programs. BPJS Health became effective in 2014, and BPJS Employment in July 2015.
  • over the last decade, ADB has facilitated social security reform through support for developing laws and regulations, design of the health and pension, old-age savings, and death benefit programs, and analysis for improving fiscal sustainability of the reform
  • social security reform is a long-term and ongoing process. The government has made significant progress, but there are several challenges to be addressed—e.g., increasing informal sector participation; improved fiscal and financial management; and integrated M&E systems


The impact of fiscal subsidy on China's new rural pension system: a natural experiment

21 Jun 2016 02:02:54 GMT

The China’s New Rural Pension Scheme (NRPS) has rapidly expanded since its first implementation in 2009,
and has covered all counties of China since 2012.
This paper studied the impact of fiscal subsidies on the participation rate and contributions of the rural residents in the China’s New Rural Pension Scheme (NRPS) program, where the fiscal subsidies include the incentive pension and the matching subsidy. The results showed that incentive Pension can significantly improve the rural residents' participation rates, but participation rate of young residents are less than the older residents. The authors also showed that matching subsidy does not affect the rural residents' participation significantly. Results suggestthat the current fiscal subsidies play an important role in the establishment and expansion of the NRPS program, but have not increased the participation rate of younger people, which was one of the initial goals of NRPS.

Sharing and Learning on the Inclusion of Ageing and Disability in the Syrian Crisis

15 Jun 2016 04:02:28 GMT

An estimated 22 percent of Syrian refugees in Jordan and Lebanon have impairments. Older persons constitute five percent of the Syrian community in host countries. In May 2014, UNHCR, Handicap International, HelpAge International and the Women’s Refugee Commission convened and facilitated a one-day meeting in Amman, Jordan to:

  • Share examples of disability and aging inclusion from different countries involved in the Syrian crisis response;
  • Discuss ongoing barriers and challenges; and
  • Explore strategies to optimise capacity development, sharing and learning across the sector as the crisis continues to evolve.

This three page document summarises the findings from this meeting with stakeholders, as well as the recommendations for future capacity development.

The document is also available in Arabic

Demographic change and fiscal sustainability in Asia

14 Jun 2016 10:59:03 GMT

Changes in the population age structure can have a significant effect on fiscal sustainability since they can affect both government revenues and expenditures. For example, population ageing will increase expenditures on the elderly while reducing potential growth and hence revenues.

In this paper, the authors project government revenue, expenditure, and fiscal balance in developing Asia up to 2050. Using a simple stylized model and the National Transfer Accounts (NTA) data set, they simulate the effect of both demographic changes and economic growth. Rapidly ageing countries like Korea, Japan, and Taipei, China, are likely to suffer a tangible deterioration of fiscal sustainability under their current tax and expenditure system.

On the other hand, rapid economic growth can improve fiscal health in poorer countries with relatively young populations and still-growing working-age populations. Overall, our simulation results indicate that Asia'€™s population ageing will adversely affect its fiscal sustainability, pointing to a need for Asian countries to further examine the impact of demographic shifts on their fiscal health.

The high cost of low vision: the evidence on ageing and the loss of sight

10 Jun 2016 02:27:02 GMT

Vision loss − 80 percent of which is preventable − is currently the leading cause of age-related disability.Worldwide, 285 million people are visually impaired, including 39 million who are totally blind. In developing countries, 94 million older people suffer from moderate to severe visual impairment − twice as many as those who suffer from significant hearing impairment.

Great strides have been made in preventing communicable eye diseases, but now action is needed to combat the dramatic growth in non-communicable age-related eye conditions like age-related macular degeneration (AMD). As the global population ages, vision loss will have a devastating impact on not only individuals but families, communities, and nations unless serious, proactive measures are taken.
The demographic changes of the 21st century provide humanity with tremendous opportunities if healthy ageing leads to active, productive ageing. Vision loss, however, is a significant barrier to a positive aging outcome.
Priority actions include:
  • integrating visual screening and other preventive eye-health interventions into public health practices for adults of all ages
  • creating education and awareness programs that include vision-loss prevention, detection, and treatment regimens
  • reimbursing both treatments and preventive eye health interventions to ensure positive impact on system-wide costs and support for future innovation
  • developing and utilizing tele-health mechanisms to provide greater access to screening and treatment regardless of geographical locationa
  • advocating for vision loss to become widely recognised as a preventable health condition; and
  • conducting more research on the outcomes and efficacy of preventive eye health

What causes inequity in access to publicly funded health services that are supposedly free at the point of use? A case of user fee exemptions for older people in Senegal

09 Jun 2016 10:37:46 GMT

Plan Sésame (PS) was launched in 2006 to provide free access to health services to Senegalese citizens aged 60 and over. As in many countries, this user fee exemption is marred by inequitable implementation. This study seeks to identify underlying causal mechanisms to explain how and why some people were
relatively less likely to have access to publicly funded health care. Explanations identified in focus group and interview data are organised into four themes:

  • PS as a poorly implemented and accessed “right” to health care;
  • PS as a “privilege” reserved for elites
  • PS as a “favour” or moral obligation to friends or family members of health workers; and
  • PS as a “curse” caused by adverse incorporation

 These results are analysed through critical realist and social constructivist epistemological lenses, in order to reflect on different interpretations of causality. Within the critical realist interpretation, the results point to a process of social exclusion. However, this interpretation, with its emphasis on objective reality, is contradicted by some local, subjective experiences of inequality and corruption. An alternative social constructionist interpretation of the results is therefore explored; it is argued this may be needed to prevent relatively powerful actors’ versions of the truth from prevailing.

No country for old men: an investment motive for downward inter-generational transfers in rural China

09 Jun 2016 10:20:51 GMT

Tens of millions of older Chinese have been struggling with poverty and loneliness as their children  flee villages to cities.  Sharp demographic changes such as rapid aging and increasing dependency ratio due to the one-child policy,  as well as the recent trend of rural-to-urban migration as a result of urbanisation
have frayed the ties that once bound the nation's families together.  The left-behind elders have to live off their labour and remittances from their migrant children.

In fighting for the exacerbated old-age poverty in the rural areas, China launched the New Rural Pension Program (NRPP) in 2009, covered more than 300 million Chinese by the end of 2012. Unlike the pension programs in the developed areas, the NRPP could be considered as a conditional cash transfer program, where the conditions are minimal:  being registered as rural residents, and age 60 or above.

This article focuses on answering the following questions: 

  • does the public cash transfer program (NRPP) crowd out the private transfers that the rural elders have been receiving?
  • how does the NRPP affect the spending patterns of the rural elders in transfers sent to others, consumption, investment in productive assets and  nancial assets?  What could be the motivation behind the behavioral responses to such a cash transfer program?

Using a regression discontinuity design with the program policy and a rich rural survey dataset, this research  nds that the NRPP decreases both the probability and the amount of private transfers received by the rural elders, which indicates a strong crowding-out effect. Also, the NRPP has no signi cant impact on the rural elders' consumption, investment in assets, loans and debts.  However, the NRPP significantly increases the amount of transfers sent to children from the elders, and at the same time, the amount of transfers sent to the elders' siblings decreased.  The results of household and individual  fixed-effect analyses reveal that the elders tend to transfer more to the more educated children, and also to those who migrated to a more distant region with a higher administrative level.  These findings could be reconciled with an investment motive of the Chinese rural elders, who are treating their migrant children as "productive assets" that have higher returns than the productive capitals in the rural areas where the financial inclusion level is low.

Large-scale social transfer and labor market outcomes: the case of the South African pension program

09 Jun 2016 10:03:12 GMT

Social transfer programs in low- and middle-income countries have been increasing. According to World Bank (2015), there are about 20 social safety net programs in an average developing country, and among various types of safety net programs, cash transfers are particularly becoming more prevalent. In Africa, for example, 40 countries, out of 48, offered unconditional cash transfers in 2014. While transfer programs have been proved to have positive e ects and to contribute to poverty reductions, it has often been said that these transfers may discourage work.

This paper evaluates the effects of the South African old age pension program, the largest cash transfer program in the country, on labour supply and employment of the elderly and prime-aged individuals. During 2008-2010 a policy change decreased the eligible ages for men from 65 to 60. Exploiting this change as a natural experiment,
the paper finds that the pension significantly discourages the elderly to work. The intention-treat-effects estimated based on three different, independent datasets imply that the labour force participation rate of men aged 60{64 significantly decreased by 5.81% points, 9.63% points, and 9.72% points, depending on the datasets used. Corre-
spondingly, the probability to be employed decreased by 4.15{9.89% points. Besides, the local average treatment e ects estimated suggest that once elderly people started receiving the benefit, the the probability to participate in the labour force and to be employed decreased by 29.2% points and 30.76% points, respectively, although these
estimates are not statistically signifcant. In contrast, the paper fails to provide clear evidence of the effects on prime-aged individuals.

Strengthening public pension systems in Asia: Proceedings of the 2015 ADB—PPI conference on public pension systems

03 Jun 2016 02:24:18 GMT

While Asia remains a key driver of global economic growth, the outlook for the region anticipates slow marginal growth for 2015 before rebounding in 2016 and remaining stronger for the next 2 years. India’s growth and the increased demand from the United States of America (US) will offset slower growth in the People’s Republic of China (PRC).
Looking at longer-term trends, rapidly ageing Asian populations and socio-cultural changes in the informal, family-based, old-age support mechanisms have created a rising demand for income and support services for the elderly and the poor. Therefore, governments and their populations are rightfully concerned about the long-term sustainability of their social security and fiscal health.
Public pension systems must find ways to cope with these pressures while many already struggle with structural challenges such as early retirement ages, diverging replacement rates under different systems, liberal withdrawal policies, and limited coverage. These factors are further exacerbated by restrictive investment mandates, which significantly curtail the ability of many developing pension systems to seek higher returns through a more diversified investment portfolio.
These conference proceeding include the following papers:
  • Southeast Asia’s Demographic Challenges: Changes and Liabilities
  • Lessons and Best Practices from Europe, Implications for Asia
  • Pension System Design: A Broad Approach to Best Practice
  • Public Pension Systems in Emerging Asia: Challenges to Fairness and Sustainability, and Reform Efforts
  • Spotlight: Learning from Korea’s National Pension System Reform

Establishing comprehensive national old age pension systems

03 Jun 2016 02:07:49 GMT

The world is ageing rapidly. Older people currently comprise 12.2% of the world’s population, with 67% living in developing countries.1 By 2050, the proportion globally will reach 21.2%, with 80% in developing countries. As the world ages, ensuringincome security in old age becomes an  increasingly important policy issue.

However, only 48% of the world’s older people have access to a pension and, unless major reforms are undertaken across developing countries, this proportion is likely to fall. The absence of pensions causes significant challenges for older people and society. Despite growing frailty, many older people are obliged to continue working in old age, often in insecure and low paid employment. As they become less able to work, their families are expected to care for them. Yet, many families taking on this responsibility have to reduce their investments in their own children and income generating activities, while many carers of older people have to withdraw from the labour force.

This paper discusses the policy options available to developing countries committed to offering universal pension coverage and maximising the incomes of older people. It presents a basic model of a pension system comprising up to three tiers that can be adapted to the circumstances of all countries. The model is based on evidence from both developed and developing countries.

Live long and prosper: aging in East Asia and Pacific

03 Jun 2016 01:47:13 GMT

As a region, East Asia and Pacific is ageing rapidly. The region is home to over a third of the global population ages 65 and older—mostly in China—and to more old people than any other region. More significantly, the region is ageing more rapidly than any region in history—a trend driven both by sharp declines in fertility and by steady increases in life expectancy—and in many countries, aging is occurring at relatively low-income level.
This report finds that East Asia and Pacific is well positioned to manage the risks from ageing. First, people in the region already have long working lives. Second, entitlements to pensions, health care, and long-term care for most of the population are still modest, and there is scope to act now to put in place systems that can be sustainable in the future. Third, household savings in the region are already high, and people tend to save until later in life, suggesting that they may be better prepared for old age. Finally, people in East Asia and Pacific have in recent decades seen a steady increase in the number of years
lived in good health.
The key message of the report is that it will be possible to manage rapid ageing in East Asia and Pacific while sustaining economic dynamism. This effort will require politically difficult policy choices, including dealing with associated fiscal risks. Several complementary policy reforms are required to manage these risks.
Pension systems will need reform. Formal sector pension schemes will need to be more fiscally sustainable, which will require reforms such as gradual increases in the retirement age.
In the health sector, the impacts of ageing will likely be significant, particularly given the increased incidence of noncommunicable diseases. This trend underscores the urgency to shift from a hospital-centric model to one in which primary care plays a bigger role and in which the treatment of older patients with chronic conditions is managed afford-ably at the right levels of the system.

Social Protection for the elderly as a development strategy: a case study of Kenya's old persons cash transfer programme

27 May 2016 12:47:44 GMT

Kenya has made progressive investments in social protection forthe ageing, providing lessons and existing opportunities for similar programmes. In Kenya, there has been a paradigm shift from universal social protection schemes targeted at formal employees to inclusive schemes including both formal and informal sectors, corporations and individuals. Additionally, the Kenya Government priorities mapped out under the Vision 2030 development blue print includes the social pillaramong other initiatives.
This paper discusses a cash transfer programme for social protection as a development strategy for the ageing in Kenya using a political economy approach within an environment of increasingly policy institutional support. The paper further proposes a transformative thinking for planning social protection for the elderly by targeting the youth.
The main recommendations are that there is need for comprehensive approaches on SP to include; informal sectors’ investment schemes, private sector engagement as seen in emerging social insurance schemes, guaranteeing old age safety in terms of basics and recreational facilities. There is also need to nurture SP efforts amongst younger generations through targeted programs, continued sensitization and support mechanisms and further move from poverty alleviation to transformative social policies, from conventional safety nets to social livelihood transformations.

The paper concludes that Social protection development strategies are contributing to poverty reduction and achievement of MDGs. These strategies should be pegged on national economic performance and further be designed to cushion beneficiaries by inculcating elements of transformative social transfers to address challenges in design and implementation. The design should minimize possible dependency and other undesired outcomes. There is also need for evidence-based policy dialogue and research, continuously collect and collate data on impact of existing programs.

Population ageing in the Small Island Developing States of Africa: trends and socioeconomic implications

27 May 2016 12:16:42 GMT

Ageing of the population poses several profound impacts on every aspect of life. This phenomenon has been visible in the Small Island Developing States of Africa (SIDS) and is expected to continue in the next few decades as the SIDS are continuously experiencing one of the fastest ageing populations in Africa. In this context, SIDS in Africa including the Islands of Mauritius, Seychelles, Cape Verde, Comoros, Guinea Bissau, Sao Tome and Principe have a unique demographic structure which is characterised by a large proportion of older persons.

The ageing profile of these countries presents a golden opportunity for research on aging and older persons in Africa as a blueprint for the rest of the continent. This paper argues that older persons in the SIDS in Africa are an important resource in the development process post-2015 and harnessing their potential for social economic development will lead to a second demographic dividend.

Directory of research on ageing in Africa 2004-2015

27 May 2016 12:08:48 GMT

The number of older persons in Africa is growing rapidly: between 2015 and 2030 the number of people aged 60 years or over in the region is projected to increase by more than 63 per cent (United Nations, 2015). Accordingly, the situation of older persons in Africa, in particular with respect to their well being, is a matter of growing concern among researchers and policymakers alike. This report provides an extensive directory of research on ageing in Africa covering the period 2004-2015, updating the Directory of Research on Ageing in Africa: 1995-2003 prepared previously by Dr. Paul Kowal for the World Health Organization. The Directory aims to profile, promote and encourage research into the health and needs of people aged 50 years or over in Africa, and to enable the use of evidence for policy. Such evidence is essential to enable countries undergoing rapid demographic and epidemiological transitions to develop appropriate policy responses and to monitor the implementation and impact of those policies.

The Directory includes descriptions of research activities submitted by primary investigators, with minimal editing. The submissions were summarized according to how the research results addressed the policy directions of the Madrid International Plan of Action on Ageing (MIPAA), and the research methods that have been applied. Taken as a whole, the Directory demonstrates the growing body of rigorous and in-depth research into ageing across Africa. While not all research on ageing in Africa has been included here, a review of the updated Directory indicates that research has been less active in some countries, and that some high-priority areas of research remain under-investigated. The process of creating the Directory revealed the difficulty of identifying research on ageing in Africa through searches of high-impact peer reviewed journals or standard bibliographic search engines. Much of the published research evidence on ageing in Africa presented in this Directory was identified through detailed internet searches or through the direct contributions of research collaborators.

Income security for all Ugandans in old age

27 May 2016 04:13:33 GMT

Uganda has a rich tradition of care and respect for the elderly. But, as in all societies, this informal system of support – while still functioning for some – is, for many others, beginning to weaken as a result of poverty, migration, urbanisation and the impact of HIV and AIDs. In response, the government of Uganda – with support from the United Kingdom, Ireland and UNICEF – has taken the first steps in building a pension system for every citizen, with the aim of ensuring that no older person has to live in abject poverty. A pilot scheme – known as the Senior Citizens’ Grant (SCG) – is currently being established in 14 Districts to assess the feasibility of providing every older person with a regular and secure cash income. If successful, the government is considering expanding the scheme across Uganda.

This paper will discuss the value of establishing a universal pension in Uganda. It will begin by considering the challenges currently facing the nation’s older citizens, before moving on to an overview of universal pensions in other developing countries. The paper will examine the evidence on the impacts of these pensions, before briefly describing the SCG and assessing its potential benefits and costs if it were to be expanded to all older citizens. Finally, the paper will argue that it is important to ensure that the pension is accessible to all older people and that its implementation would be a popular and welcome initiative.

Poverty, vulnerabiity and inequality in Uganda

27 May 2016 04:04:44 GMT

According to existing survey analysis, Uganda has made steady progress in poverty reduction over the past decade. However, these gains have not been experienced evenly, with large disparities in poverty levels across geographic areas and household characteristics. These disparities persist when poverty is examined across multiple deprivations– such as health, education, sanitation, and housing – rather than only consumption.

This study aims to fill some of the gaps in the current understanding of poverty, vulnerability,and equality in Uganda, with a particular view to informing the on-going policy discussions within the social protection sub-sector. The Uganda National Household Survey (UNHS) Report (UBOS 2011) provides an excellent foundation, and this current study takes the opportunity to extend the analysis of poverty and vulnerability further while using a social protection lens.
The report concludes that whilst a focus on the 7.5 million Ugandans living below the basic needs poverty is still essential, a more dynamic understanding of poverty and vulnerability would imply a broader focus for poverty and vulnerability reduction efforts. In particular if the GoU is to build on and consolidate the poverty reduction gains made over the past two decades, policy responses which address the risks and vulnerabilities experienced by high numbers of Uganda’s population are necessary. This clearly implies a role for direct income support in providing the resilience and income security households need to effectively deal with shocks, make productive investments and carve a sustainable path out of poverty.

Demographics, societal aging, and meat consumption in China

23 May 2016 02:38:59 GMT

Drawn on the data collected by surveying 1,340 urban households from 6 cities in China, this paper estimates the impacts of demographic structure and population ageing on household meat consumption, by jointly considering meat consumed at-home and away-from-home. Based on the trajectories of population, a simple simulation on meat demand trend in China is conducted subsequently.

The results suggest:

  • meat consumed away-from-home averagely accounts for near 30% of household total meat consumption in terms of quantity, so that its omission likely leads to a significant underestimate of total meat consumption and misunderstanding the driving forces
  • population ageing significantly and negatively affects per capita meat consumption, suggesting that the expected meat demand in China without considering population ageing will be overestimated

The findings from this study have important implications for better understanding the relative issues on China’s meat consumption under the situation of population ageing. China has experienced rapid economic growth over the last three decades. This growth has led to a substantial improvement in people’s living standards and reduction in poverty, but it has also led to massive increases in the production of agricultural products. Additionally, the population structure in China is rapidly changing with an increasing proportion of the population being elderly, and this ageing trend is expected to continue into the future.

These economic and societal changes have potentially important implications concerning future food security in China. As the ageing of China’s population is inevitable, measuring and accounting for its effects on food consumption, particularly meat consumption, is essential in terms of agricultural planning and agricultural import policy. Although the quantity of grain consumed per person is decreasing as incomes have increased, per capita meat consumption is increasing. Because meat production is generally a grain intensive activity, it is possible for grain consumption to increase as the number of animals for meat production increases even while people eat less grain directly.

End the neglect: a study of humanitarian financing for older people

17 May 2016 12:52:43 GMT

As the scale of humanitarian needs around the world is greater than ever before, the financing of humanitarian response is coming under increasing scrutiny. Data from the latest Global humanitarian assistance report show that in 2014, international humanitarian funding rose for a second consecutive year, reaching a record high of US$24.5 billion – 19 per cent up on the previous year. Yet the data also reveal a growing gap between funding and needs. In 2014, while US$12 billion was allocated to UN-coordinated appeals, US$7.5 billion of requirements (38 per cent) were unmet.

At a global level, discussions of humanitarian financing, such as those reported on by the United Nations Secretary-General’s High-Level Panel, are addressing three critical questions: how to reduce humanitarian needs by addressing the root causes of crises; how to increase the resource base for the response; and how to improve the way aid is delivered while at the same time using it more effectively. The question of whether existing funding actually reaches the people most in need – a crucial one for all those concerned with the impartiality of humanitarian response – receives less attention.

Since 2010 HelpAge International has conducted an annual analysis, using humanitarian funding as a proxy indicator, to quantify the degree to which the specific needs of older people are reflected in humanitarian programming. In the absence of full reporting of humanitarian spending, HelpAge uses the United Nations (UN) Consolidated Appeals Process (CAP) as a proxy for humanitarian funding (for further details see the Methodology section). HelpAge analysis in 2010 and 2011 found that fewer than 1 per cent of projects reviewed included activities targeting older people – a figure that rose only marginally to 2.1 per cent in 2012.

This report is the most recent study in the series. It provides new data on funding allocations in 2013 and 2014, and gives a longitudinal analysis of the extent to which humanitarian response is meeting older people’s needs.

Monitoring demographic indicators for the post 2015 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs): a review of proposed approaches and opportunities

17 May 2016 03:30:01 GMT

This report reviews the indicators proposed by the Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) for the post-2015 SDG monitoring period that require access to population data or refer to demographic processes. It makes recommendations to strengthen the proposed monitoring framework. The report was conducted as part of the IUSSP’s activities related to the post-2015 data revolution with funding from UNFPA.
Based on a review of available data sources and estimation strategies, we suggest that low and middle-income countries where complete vital registration systems do not yet exist, or cannot be established in a short time,
should adopt a tiered SDG monitoring framework. This framework combines:
  • high-quality decennial censuses
  • annual surveys of the proximate determinants of fertility/mortality and
  • periodic large surveys of fertility/mortality with verbal autopsies (every 3-5 years)

Africa economic brief - aging population challenges in Africa

13 May 2016 12:12:04 GMT

This brief describes trends in population ageing in Africa relative to those in economically advanced countries. It highlights the key drivers of the phenomenon, both globally and in the African context more specifically.

The brief also analyses country-specific trends and demonstrates the reasons why the proportion of population 65 years and older is growing in many countries across the continent. Ageing is highly correlated with long-term physical and mental disability, and a number of long term chronic conditions and will likely increase personal care requirements.

Furthermore, most socioeconomic indicators for the elderly in Africa are low, and in many countries poverty rates among the elderly are  significantly higher than the national average.

Older voices in humanitarian crises: calling for change

10 May 2016 01:44:51 GMT

This report documents the situation of older refugees fleeing from conflict in Syria, Ukraine and South Sudan. The findings contribute to a growing body of evidence illustrating the failure of the humanitarian system to protect older people’s rights or meet their needs. The stories highlight the limited progress the humanitarian system has made to address the neglect of older people and other vulnerable groups.Recommendations:In order to address the neglect faced by older people in emergencies, their opinions must be heard and changes made in the humanitarian system. Based on the findings of consultations with older women and men, HelpAge International is calling for the following:Humanitarian responders should:systematically engage with all affected people, including older women and men, to deliver meaningful participation and ensure that their views are reflected in responses, including assessment, design, delivery and monitoring and evaluationcollect, fully disaggregate, and utilise data for different population groups including older people, in order to provide robust evidence to design, revise and learn from programming that is reflective of, and appropriate for, the people and needs identifiedaddress gaps in the quality of primary healthcare services for those with chronic diseases, ensuring adequate provision of NCD drugs and access to laboratory tests at primary healthcare levelensure services to address psychological distress are accessible to older men and women, providing outreach counselling and support services for those who are unable to attend health centresensure mainstream response activities consider the needs of older men and women providing age-sensitive and physically accessible services. Provide outreach services for isolated people who cannot reach servicesHumanitarian donors should:Ensure that funding is commensurate with the scale of needs and is allocated impartially, recognising the needs of different groups including older peopleEnsure funding is allocated only to funding actions that include an inclusive analysis of needs based on data that is fully disaggregated by sex, age and disability All humanitarians should:contribute to developing the understanding and skills of humanitarian actors so they can identify the needs of older people and deliver appropriate assistancetake responsibility for building core understanding among staff of the humanitarian principles and available guidance in support of inclusive programming for marginalised groups including older people. Where appropriate, build specialist skills to address the needs of vulnerable people in crisis[...]

Aging, international capital flows and long run convergence

21 Apr 2016 11:41:51 GMT

In all regions of the world, population is aging, but at different paces, and according to the United Nations (2013) demographic projections, this phenomenon should go on until after the end of the century. This generalized but unequal aging process is occurring in a world of increasing capital mobility and technological transfers, which can o§er new opportunities for trade between regions. Moreover, this aging process increases the demographic dependency putting the unfunded pension schemes under pressure in developed countries, which in turn induces countries to change their rules of sharing of resources between generations, which infers on the individual choices of savings. Conversely, in the emerging countries, the unequal sharing of growth beneits and a longer life expectancy could encourage governments to settle or improve unfunded pension schemes and smooth the di§erences in welfare across generations. How in a globalized economy these antagonistic problematics resolve?

This paper analyses how the economic, demographic and institutional differences between two regions -one developed and called the North, the other emerging and called the South- drive the international capital flows and explain the world economic equilibrium. To this end, the authors develop a simple two-period OLG model. They compare closed-economy and open-economy equilibria. Then the paper considers that openness facilitates convergence of South's characterics towards North's. The authors examine successively the consequences of a technological catching-up, a demographic transition and an institutional convergence of pension schemes. We determine the analytical solution of the dynamics of the world interest rate and deduce the evolution of the current accounts. These analytical results are completed by numerical simulations. They show that the technological catching-up alone leads to a welfare loss for the North in reason of capital flows towards the South. If they then add to this first change a demographic transition, the capital demand is reduced in the South whereas its saving increases in reason of a higher life expectancy. These two effects contribute to reduce the capital flows from the North to the South. Finally, an institutional convergence of the two pension schemes reduces the South's saving rate which increases the capital flow from the North to the South