World Bank gives wake-up call
“Age is an opportunity no less than youth itself” – with this encouraging words, Mukesh Chawla started the presentation of a new World Bank report called From Red to Gray: The Third Transition” of Aging Populations in Eastern Europe and the Former Soviet Union. At the World Bank’s office in Tbilisi Mukesh Chawla, World Bank Lead Economist and co-author of the report dwelled on the major conclusions of the study and the policy implications for the region, including for Georgia.
The book raises an important issue of demographic transition and its various social and economic repercussions. According to the report, many countries in Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union have slowly growing or shrinking populations. As a result they will soon have populations that are among the oldest in the world. While other countries such as Japan and some Western European states have gone or are currently going through this process, the problem with Eastern Europe and the former USSR is that the incomes in these countries are still very low and the impact can be more hard-hitting.
Talking about the book with GT, Mukesh Chawla said: “ The book argues that if we increase productivity, we can mitigate any adverse impact of demographic transition. The book argues that if lifelong learning improves and we have systems in place where people live healthier, and if there is an emphasis placed on good care and sensible health policy is put into place, we can minimize the impact of long-term health expenditures in the future.”
Now more about the content of the report as summarized by World Bank press service.
According to the report, in 2025, more than one in five Bulgarians will be more than 65 years old—up from 13 percent in 1990. Ukraine’s population will shrink by a fifth between 2000 and 2025. And the Average Slovene will be 47.4 years old in 2025—among the oldest in the world. The Population of Georgia may decline by 17%, while the number of people over 65 years old may increase from 13% to 18 % by 2025.
These demographic trends underline the need to ensure that the region’s recent economic success results in sustained increases in productivity and improvements in the efficiency and effectiveness of pension and health care systems.