Lower birth rates and increasing life expectancy are dramatically changing the population’s age distribution across the globe. We are now beginning to live in “top-heavy” societies, with fewer young people and more old people.
Successes in public health, socioeconomic development, and human rights can be credited for these major demographic changes. Yet new challenges are created by the fact that we live in social and physical environments that were shaped when human lives were half as long. These demographic shifts present serious challenges to families, communities, and nations; current policies and infrastructures are struggling to respond.
As we move forward in the 21st century, the aging of the population will require new approaches to economic security and health care, particularly as older adults live longer, often with mental or physical health challenges. This will require innovation in employment, housing, transportation, clinical interventions, and social services. Solutions must be found in the global context of climate change, energy sustainability, and rapidly developing information technology.
Cross-national research and educational initiatives promise more effective responses to the new realities of changing demographics. Given that all aspects of human society are affected by this demographic revolution, every discipline has a role to play — biomedicine, public health, psychology, social work, law, business, architecture, arts, engineering, and more. Universities across the globe must take the lead in transdisciplinary, cross-national research and development for innovations in response to population aging.
Multi-university workshops will be planned to further our collaborations in this area.
The Symposium will also showcase 3 Minute Thesis® presentations from graduate students working on a range of population aging topics at partner universities.