Crowd of people © GIZ / Kirchgessner

The world population is in transformation – a diverse picture in every region of the world.

The world population will grow from the present 7.4 billion to probably 9.7 billion in 2050. With the exception of Europe, the number of inhabitants in all the regions of the world will initially continue to rise, particularly in Africa. The age structure of the world population will also change dramatically, with the share of older people in society rising sharply in many regions of the world. At the same time, especially in Africa, the currently largest group – young people – is growing up. The most recent studies show that 43% of people in sub-Saharan Africa are under the age of 15. This disproportionately large number of young people is also described as “youth bulges”. On the one hand this has a high potential for conflict, but on the other hand it also creates opportunities for the economic development of a country (often called the ‘demographic dividend’). The latter means that where there is a large number of young people who are able to work, investment in education and the labour market can lead to an increase in economic output. In addition other demographic megatrends are the global advance of urbanisation and growing migration movements.

This concentration of population growth in the world’s poorest countries poses challenges such as the struggle for water, food, energy and land, and increased needs in various sectors – (vocational) education (teacher training, human capacity building), employment (income-generating opportunities, labour market etc), social protection (poverty etc), health (family planning, basic health services etc), good governance, and rural and urban development. Expansion and promotion of effective ‘demographic competence’ is a basis for forward-looking and needs-based policy advice and concrete projects at the local level. This requires understanding and the ability to deliver a demographic analysis based on reliable, disaggregated data and future projections. Together with its partners and acting on behalf of German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), GIZ is accordingly collaborating on shaping the demographic framework conditions for sustainable development, e.g. through demography-oriented policy advice and intergenerational and policy dialogue.


Caring for the elderly

Worldwide, many countries are facing demographic change and advancing ageing of society. Reasons for this development include medical advances and the associated increase in life expectancy, migration, urbanisation and changes in lifestyles and family structures. It is assumed that by 2050 all major areas of the world except Africa will have nearly a quarter or more of their populations aged 60 or over

At the same time, there is a decrease in the number of people working and caring for elderly people. Challenges in the care sector accordingly include recruiting and training skilled labour to meet the growing need for care. Many countries find themselves inadequately prepared for the new demographic situation at present, and there is a quantitative and qualitative shortage of care services.

Issues like the combination of work and ageing, work and care, securing and funding social protection systems are also highly topical worldwide, and require forward-looking (family) policy-making in combination with the private sector and municipalities.

Ageing and care generally are not only an economic challenge but also above all an imminent social challenge (specifically in terms of poverty in old age) and an ethical and personal issue. The core problem is that people who do not receive care are denied a fundamental human right of the elderly to live in dignity. This is why it is important not only to help the affected groups individually through care appropriate to their needs and age, but also to support and relieve the family and community in which they live. In turn, this requires sustainable investment in recruiting skilled labour and training people to care for the aged, as well as in local residential care services.

On behalf of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) and other public and private sector clients, GIZ is working in many countries (including China since 2017) under a strategic alliance between GIZ and the Renafan and Servona companies. Among other things, this involves implementing out-patient and in-patient innovative residential and care options for those needing care, introducing a dual ‘caring for the elderly’ training programme in emerging and developing countries, and sustainable establishment of quality management systems in caring for the elderly.

Examples of our work


Demographics and Development

Numerous examples show that the distribution problems with resources essential to life, such as water and land, will intensify. Besides climate change, the cause lies in demographic processes.

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Dorina Beck
Phone: +49 6196 79-1270

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