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Project August 28, 2014

Peru: An Aging Revolution

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Media file: img_0976-2.jpg
Image by Michelle Ferng. Peru, 2014.

The world is in the midst of an unprecedented, rapid, and transformative aging transition. Advances in medicine, improvements in sanitation, and economic prosperity have led to longer life expectancies, while family planning has led to falling birth rates across the globe.

Reflecting the shift in demographic composition, the global proportion of persons aged 60 years and older expected to more than triple in the next half century. Most of the aging will take place in developing countries, with 72 percent of the world's older people living in developing countries by the year 2025 according to UN projections.

While longer life expectancy is celebrated as one of the great triumphs of development, in low- and middle-income countries, the rapid aging transition can be a double-edged sword. Unlike OECD countries, which experienced economic prosperity before aging, developing countries today face a rapidly aging population in a context of high poverty and inequality, limited resource availability, deteriorating family support, and inadequate social protection. Protecting the rights of older people therefore poses a special set of challenges.

Peru is among the many countries undergoing rapid aging, with the proportion of the population over the age of 60 projected to rise from 9.2% in 2014 to 22.7% in 2050. Government, civil society, and communities have begun to address the needs of the graying population, though efforts remain in progress.

Pulitzer Center Reporting Fellow Michelle Ferng travels to Peru to explore the plight of elderly people, issues on pension reform, social protection initiatives, and successes and challenges in promoting healthy aging for all.

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