June 10, 2013
MEXICO – The study of worldwide population trends reveals a clear challenge with important consequences for our social, cultural and economic lives: the steady increase of elderly people, both in total and proportional numbers.
By 2025, the world will have almost 800 million people over the age of 65. About 556 million of them will be in developing countries, another 254 million in developed ones. On a global scale, Asia absorbs the majority, and it seems as though Latin America will have “only” about 70 million. These demographic forecasts are not exact, but they offer an idea about the magnitude of the challenge.
The United Nations’ World Population Monitoring recently estimated that the percentage of women expected to live past 80 in all regions of the world is higher than the percentage of men. This will also pose unprecedented challenges.
Africa registers the lowest percentages, and North America (U.S. and Canada) registers the highest. This suggests that there is a very close relation between longevity and socio-economics.
Photo: Gabriela Pinto
Additionally, there are about seven billion people today living on the planet, up from two billion in 1920. Recent demographic calculations indicate that the world population grows by one billion every 12 years. This is not good news.
Every society has its vulnerable groups, even if their magnitude and diversity change within a country, from one country to another, or from one time period to another. Social vulnerability is ever changing. The relative position of individuals and families on the social and economic ladder is modified by the economic trajectory of each country. There is one constant, though, and it's that senior citizens are always present in the most fragile segment. The historical development of human nature imposes a complicated condition that social institutions rarely mitigate or soften.
There seems to be a consensus that in the last stage of life – old age – most human beings are intensely vulnerable and dependent. But the degree of fragility varies within this segment of the population. There are many millions of people who spend the last stage of their life in very difficult circumstances – poor, ill, alone.
The science of old age
Geriatrics, gerontology and demography have contributed enormously to understanding the particularities of old age. There are other disciplines that also help understand the profile of the elderly and the phases of aging, but I prefer to focus on these three. We should also take into account the work of caregivers and nurses who take care of the elderly since these professionals have and will have a relevant and growing role in the future. Maybe the future will have an even greater demand for these professionals than for engineers, designers, etc.
Geriatrics, as a medical field, is growing for obvious reasons. Through geriatrics, we have a scientific understanding of how hard it is to reach this stage and that it is even harder to stay there for a long time, given that physical and mental deterioration is unavoidable at that age. Hence, one must recognize the elderly’s vulnerability. Geriatrics is geared towards the study of prevention, diagnosis, treatment and rehabilitation of illnesses: it solves senior citizens’ health problems, if there are resources to do so.
Photo: Lisa Edmonds
Gerontology is also a booming, interdisciplinary science. Today it studies aging and old age while considering psychological, biological and social aspects given that these directly influence how a human being experiences aging.
Aging and poverty
Demography shows us an X-ray of the human population – its changes and fluxes. It allows us to quantify the present and future magnitude of growing old. It is indispensable in the decision and policy-making processes, so that we can anticipate measures to solve different problems through public policy.
In the not-so-distant future, life expectancy will continue to increase. Demographers define this as “an estimate of the average of years lived by a group of people born in the same year, if mortality rate movements remain constant.” I fear that this increased life expectancy may not be entirely good news when social inequality and poverty run rampant everywhere.
In general, longevity involves the greater, relative weight of present and future old age. There are several underlying factors: lower birth rate (planned and desired), the continuous decline of infant, juvenile and adult mortality rates, as well as the remarkable advancements in preventive and corrective medicine. There is also the universalization of the public health systems, which have been decreased by the economic policies of fiscal austerity in recent years.
Demographic aging is a process that gradually changes the “population pyramid.” Until know, in every region of the world, children, youth and adults dominated the pyramid to different degrees and levels. But this is changing – and this change will in turn lead to a new global society.
But what’s alarming is that existing social, political and cultural institutions do not have the capacity to deal with the coming challenges that this change will pose. The tendency toward social helplessness and vulnerability of the elderly will continue to increase as economies fall into recession and austerity measures are applied.
America Economia is Latin America's leading business magazine, founded in 1986 by Elias Selman and Nils Strandberg. Headquartered in Santiago, Chile, it features a region-wide monthly edition and regularly updated articles online, as well as country-specific editions in Chile, Brazil, Ecuador and Mexico.
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Anne-Sophie Goninet, Jane Herbelin and Bertrand Hauger
October 25, 2021
Welcome to Monday, where an apparent coup is underway in Sudan, Colombia's most-wanted drug lord gets caught, and Michael Jordan's rookie sneakers score an auction record. We also focus on a report that the Thai government is abusing the country's centuries-old law to protect the monarchy from criticism (lèse-majesté) to target pro-democracy activists and protesters.
[*Zdraveite - Bulgarian]
🌎 7 THINGS TO KNOW RIGHT NOW
• Developing: Sudan leaders arrested amid military coup reports: Soldiers have arrested several members of Sudan's transitional government as well as civilian leaders, and Prime Minister Abdallah Hamdok has reportedly been put under house arrest, in what the information ministry called a military coup. Pro-democracy protesters have taken to the streets of the capital city Khartoum where there are reports of gunfire and clashes.
• Colombia's most wanted drug lord to be sent to U.S.: Colombia's most dangerous drug trafficker, known as Otoniel, was caught after a joint army, air force and police operation and faces extradition to the U.S. He led the country's largest criminal gang, and was on the U.S. most wanted list for years.
• Xi speech marks China's UN anniversary: China's President Xi Jinping marked the 50th anniversary of Beijing's entry into the United Nations with a speech calling for greater global cooperation, adding that issues like climate change, terrorism and cyber security needed multilateral solutions. Taiwan was not mentioned.
• German ISIS bride jailed for crimes against humanity: A German court has sentenced a German woman and former member of the Islamic State to 10 years in prison for letting a 5-year-old Yazidi enslaved girl die of thirst in Iraq. The case is one of the world's first trials to prosecute a war crime against the Yazidis.
• COVID update: The Beijing marathon scheduled next weekend has been postponed until further notice as China seeks to stamp out Delta variant outbreak and return to zero cases ahead of the Winter Olympics next February. Meanwhile, coronavirus cases in Eastern Europe have surpassed the 20 million mark as the region fights against its worst outbreak since the pandemic started and vaccination efforts lag.
• Goodbye, Gunther: U.S. actor James Michael Tyler, best known for his role as the barista Gunther on the TV show Friends, has died at 59 of prostate cancer.
• Sneakers record: A pair of Michael Jordan's white-and-red Nike shoes, which he wore during his rookie season with the Chicago Bulls in 1984, sold for $1.47 million — a new record price for sneakers at auction.
🗞️ FRONT PAGE
"The end of a boss," titles Colombian daily El Espectador, reporting on the arrest of drug lord Dairo Antonio Usuga, known as Otoniel, who had led Colombia's largest criminal gang and had been on the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency's most wanted list for years. He was captured in a raid and will be extradited to the U.S.
#️⃣ BY THE NUMBERS
A Georgia man is being prosecuted for wire fraud after spending most of his business's COVID relief loan to buy one Pokémon trading card for $57,789.
📰 STORY OF THE DAY
How Thailand's "Lèse-Majesté" law is used to stifle all protest
Once meant to protect the royal family, the century-old law has become a tool for the military-led government in Bangkok to stamp out all dissent. A new report outlines the abuses.
👑 Thailand's Criminal Code "Lèse-Majesté" Article 112 imposes jail terms for defaming, insulting, or threatening the monarchy, with sentences of three to 15 years. This law has been present in Thai politics since 1908, though applied sparingly, only when direct verbal or written attacks against members of the royal family. But after the May 2014 military coup d'état, Thailand experienced the first wave of lèse-majesté arrests, prosecutions, and detentions of at least 127 individuals arrested in a much wider interpretation of the law.
🚨 The recent report "Second Wave: The Return of Lèse-Majesté in Thailand," documents how the Thai government has "used and abused Article 112 of the Criminal Code to target pro-democracy activists and protesters in relation to their online political expression and participation in peaceful pro-democracy demonstrations." The investigation shows 124 individuals, including at least eight minors, have been charged with lèse-majesté between November 2020 and August 2021. The new wave of charges is cited as a response to the rising pro-democracy protests across Thailand over the past year.
💻 The more than a century-old law is now largely playing out online, where much of today's protest takes place in Thailand. Thai student activist Juthatip Sirikan says people are willing to go further on social media to expose information such as how the king intervenes in politics and the monarchy's accumulation of wealth, information the mainstream media rarely reports on them. Not surprisingly, however, social media is heavily monitored and the military is involved in Intelligence operations and cyber attacks against human rights defenders and critics of any kind.
➡️ Read more on Worldcrunch.com
"Children are going to die. People are going to starve."
— The United Nations warns that Afghanistan verges on a "total breakdown" as millions of Afghans, including children, could die of starvation unless urgent action is taken by the international community. The agency calls for the release of frozen assets to avoid economic and social collapse, despite concerns over the Taliban government. A recent report said that about 97% of Afghanistan's population may sink below the poverty line, and World Food Programme (WFP) Executive Director David Beasley warned that more than half of Afghanistan's population of 39 million were facing acute food insecurity and "marching to starvation" in comparison to 14 million two months ago.
🕌 🔍 IN OTHER NEWS
Dutch cities have been secretly probing mosques since 2013
At least ten Dutch towns and cities have secretly used a private agency to probe mosques and other local religious organizations, Amsterdam-based daily het NRC reports in an exclusive investigation.
The clandestine operation — funded by NCTV, the National Security Services, the Netherlands' leading counter-terrorism agency — was prompted by the social unrest and uncertainty following multiple terror attacks in 2013, and a rise in Islamic radicalization.
The NCTV, which advises and financially supports municipalities in countering radicalization, put the municipalities in touch with Nuance by Training and Advice (Nuance door Trainingen en Advies, NTA), a private research agency based in Deventer, Netherlands. Among the institutions targeted by the investigations, which came at a cost of circa 500,000 euros, were the Al Mouahidin mosque in the central Dutch town of Ede, and the Nasser mosque east of the city of Utrecht, according to NRC.
Unlike public officials, the private agency can enter the mosques to clandestinely research the situation. In this case, the agents observed activity, talked to visitors, administrators, and religious leaders, and investigated what they do and say on social media.
All findings then wound up in a secret report which includes personal details about what the administrators and teachers studied, who their relatives are, with whom they argued, and how often they had contact with authorities in foreign countries, like Morocco.
It is unclear whether the practice is legal, which is why several members of the Dutch Parliament are now demanding clarification from the outgoing Minister of Justice and Security, Ferd Grapperhaus, who is said to be involved.
"The ease with which the government violates (fundamental) rights when it comes to Islam or Muslims is shocking," Stephan van Baarle, member of the leftist party DENK, told De Volkskrant, another Dutch newspaper.
Leaders of the Muslim organizations that were secretly probed say they feel betrayed. Hassan Saidi, director of one of the mosques investigated, said that the relationship with the local municipality had been good. "This puts a huge dent in the trust I'd had in the municipality," he told the Dutch public broadcaster NOS.
✍️ Newsletter by Anne-Sophie Goninet, Jane Herbelin and Bertrand Hauger
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