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INTRODUCTION

The total aged population in developing countries is currently as large as the total aged population in the rest of the world. This segment is growing at a disproportionately faster rate in the developing world and by the year 2000 A.D.. their number is expected to increase by 100 million compared with an increase of 38 million in the developed world (Table 1).

Table 1
World Population Projections

Year Total Population
(Million)
Population
65 + years
Percentage
65 + years

Developing Countries      
1980 3284 129 3-9
2000 4297 229 4-7
Developed Countries      
1980 1131 129 11-4
2000 1272 167 13-2


The Western Pacific Regional Office of the World Health Organisation carried out a survey on social and health aspects of the ageing population in four countries of Asia, and Pacific (Malaysia, Philippines, Republic of Korea and Fiji). (Andrews,1987). The demographic characteristics observed were in tune with those of other developing countries in general, but with relatively a smaller percentage of the total population in the older age groups.

India ranks second population-wise and seventh area-wise and supports 15% of the world's population. Those aged 60 + (N = 43 millions) currently constituting 6% of the country's population are expected to soar to 75 millions around 2000 A.D. Next year, 1991 is the census year. It is not the percentage of the aged in the population, but it is their number that is formidable in the developing countries. The United Nations classified societies broadly into 'young' (4% or less of those aged 60 +), 'matured' (4-7%) and 'ageing' (7% and above). According to this definition India presently falling under the category of 'matured' society, will soon reach the status of the 'ageing' society by 2000 A.D. The distribution of population in developed countries, starting with a triangular type has now reached the shape of a rectangle. In India it is at present triangular with lower age groups constituting the bulk of the population. China alone among the Asiatic countries, with its family planning drive is approaching rectangular pattern approximating that of the Western world.

The Indian Council of Medical Research identified the aged as the priority area and instituted a single centered Task Force Project in 1981. Initially this project started at the Institute of Psychiatry, Madurai Medical College and later completed

 
 Source: UN Age and Sex Composition by population by country, 1960-2000, New York, 1979.
 Andrews, G. R. (1987). Annals of Academy of Medicine. Singapore. Ageing in the Developing Countries of Asia and the Pacific-Implications for Health Care pp. 3-10.
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