Demographers have been watching this trend develop for decades. They’ve seen fertility rates around the world decline, resulting in fewer babies coming into the world. At the same time, they have watched as better access to cutting-edge health care (especially in wealthy countries) results in longer lifespans across the board. And now, for the first time in recorded history, there are more people over age 65 than there are people under age five.
From baby boom to baby bust:
- The scales tipped at the end of 2018, the United Nations says. There were 705 million people over age 65 on Earth, compared to 680 million youngsters 4 years old and younger.
- This trend is expected to continue, and the disparity between the oldest and the youngest will widen as we head toward 2050. By then, it’s expected that there will be more than two people over 65 for every one person under the age of five.
- This so-called “baby bust” is worrying economists, who say an aging population will mean fewer people in the workforce, which will mean less productivity, and less economic growth.