In 2100, if you lined up everyone in the world in order of their age, the person in the middle would be 41.7 years old. For a similar lineup in 1950, the age of the person at the midpoint was 23.5.
So yes, the world is aging. However, as always, when we zoom in closer to a statistic, we can see so much more.
Where are we going? To differences among elderly populations.
Young and Old Nations
Not all of the world is getting so much older. As you see below, much of Africa and Asia (but not China) will remain relatively young.
Next, looking more closely at the aging population in the United States, we can see that more of those beyond age 60 are remaining in the labor force.
But here is where we find a big difference by looking more closely at the aged who work. People with more education are working longer. The Economist called it “Cognitive Affluence.”
Our Bottom Line: Productivity From Aging Populations
Dividing the elderly between those who had to stop work because of disability and those who continued in the labor force reveals an education divide as well. No longer should we imagine a frail elderly person at work. Because the disabled and less educated have left the labor force, those who remain can support–not drain–productivity.