Every second, two people will turn 60 years old. That's more than a piece of cocktail party trivia -- it's a reason to really look at a the global aging population and enact a "plan of action to improve the quality of life of older persons everywhere," said Dr. Babatunde Osotimehin, the executive director of the United Nations Population Fund.
In a new study, "Ageing in the Twenty-First Century: A Celebration and a Challenge," the U.N. urges nations to enact a number of policy changes -- from health care to pensions -- to protect the elderly, while making sure they're able to continue contributing to society.
"Aging is a global phenomenon, [it] is not a developed-country phenomenon," Osotimehin said. Currently, one in nine people in the world are 60 and older; by 2050, one in five are expected to reach that milestone.) "All government and peoples around the world must begin to think about how to respond to aging. This is something we need to put front and center. With the right policies in place in terms of health care and legal protection, we can reap dividends from longevity," Osotimehin said.
Those dividends include capitalizing on the aging population's years of experience. "We need to be creative about who does what," Osotimehin said. "[Businesses] need to deconstruct and look at specific skill sets that people bring and build on those skill sets. Perhaps a younger person may have the skills to do the physical jobs, but an older person may be the one that thinks creatively [about a product]. They have wisdom, they have skills, [and] they come with a lot of insitutional memory about a lot of things, which we can deploy in solving [problems]."
To accompany the study, the Population Fund released a list of 10 things we may not know about older adults around the world. Take a look and share your thoughts in the comments below.
1. Every second, two people around the world celebrate their sixtieth birthday.
2. In 1910, life expectancy for a Chilean female was 33 years. Today it is 82 years.
3. On 16 October 2011, British national Fauja Singh became the first 100 year-old to complete a marathon by running the Toronto Waterfront Marathon in Canada.
4. In the United Kingdom, one third of the babies born in 2012 can expect to celebrate their 100th birthday.
5. 65% of people over 60 live in less developed countries. Despite their growing share of the population in the developing world however, less than one percent of humanitarian aid was targeted at older people in 2010-11.
6. Born in Tennessee in 1896, Besse Cooper is the world’s oldest living person. On her 116th birthday this year she said: “I mind my own business. And I don’t eat junk food.”
7. Japan is the world’s “oldest” country, with the highest concentration of people aged 60 and over.
8. Forty-seven percent of males over 60 years old and 24 percent of females over 60 years old still participate in the labour force; in some developing countries, over 90 percent of [people] over 60 work.
9. Harlan David Sanders, better known as Colonel Sanders, founded Kentucky Fried Chicken at the age of 65.
10. Fewer than one in five older people globally have access to a pension.