Population Ageing in IR Iran

Type Report
Title Population Ageing in IR Iran
Publication (Day/Month/Year)
URL http://iran.unfpa.org/Four-Reports-English/Population Ageing in I. R. Iran.pdf
Rapid and extensive demographic changes have placed Iran amongst the countries that will have an
old age structure by the mid 21st century. According to the United Nations? population reports, the rate
of population ageing is unprecedented, pervasive, profound, and enduring, and is becoming a global
phenomenon. The population increase in older age groups has differed and diverged from that of other
age groups in Iran. Based on 2011 population and housing census older age cohorts have been
experiencing accelerating growth. While fertility decline, from its peak in mid-1980s to below
replacement level in the 2000s, has decreased the annual population growth to less than 1.7 percent in
the 1986-2011 time span, the number of population aged 60-65 years and above had an annual growth
rate of 5 percent during the same period. In fact, the rapid fertility decline – the effects of which on
the adult and elderly population have not yet fully manifested– has not played a role in the changing
number of the elderly population. The substantial growth rate is attributed to the increase in survival
chances (higher life expectancy) to older ages. This is called „individual ageing?. Emergence of
individual ageing is the first phase of population ageing in Iran.
Demographic changes are not the only transformations that affected the elderly. The demographic
dynamics of the latter part of the 20th century engendered widespread socioeconomic changes, which
had significant impacts on the life of the elderly. The occurrence of large migration waves,
particularly rural-urban migration patterns, constitutes one of the social changes that have immensely
influenced the lifestyles of the elderly –placing them among other vulnerable groups. These migration
waves have created a myriad of social and health consequences, including the separation of family
members; increased urbanization; the epidemiological transition progression to the fourth stage – the
increase in the prevalence of chronic and non-contagious diseases; social changes which tend to have
a weakening effect on family and intergenerational relations; the emergence of socioeconomic
stratification, and (to some extent) gender inequalities in the aged population.
The aforementioned changes have occurred so rapidly that social institutions were unable to acquire
necessary capacities and capabilities to cope with and keep pace with them. Only during recent years,
these emerging issues attracted the attention of official institutions and bodies. However, the
necessary infrastructures and capacities required to overcome the problems of the elderly do not exist
in the country. The weak/low coverage of retirement funds and basic supplementary insurance
policies/schemes, as well as insufficient financial support on one hand and the weakness of informal
and kinship supports due to changes in living conditions in modern societies, separation of children
from parents (due to widespread migration among younger generations) and the spread of modern
ideals and priorities on the other hand, are other aspects contributing to the uneven population-social
changes in the society of Iran, which is itself undergoing transitions. As explained by Knodel (1999)
what is predictable for oriental societies such as Iran is that development, alongside formal protection
and support systems, tends to bring about improvements in the lives of the elderly in the future, but
informal support would be weakened by demographic changes; a paradoxical set of effects of
development of family and social life of the elderly (Knodel, 1999).
In the section of demographic situation and ageing of this report, population ageing in Iran and
socioeconomic characteristics of the elderly are described. In the section on the institutions and bodies
responsible for planning for the elderly, the activities of these institutions are reviewed. In the health
section, some issues and aspects of the health of the aged population are defined. An outline of the
key findings of the situation of the elderly in Iran is as follows: Increase in life expectancy at birth, from less than 30 years prior to 1920 to more than 70
years in the first decade of 21st century has led to an increase in survivorship up to ageing
years.This is resulting an increase in the growth rate of elderly population and subsequent
emergence of effects of momentum of mortality changes which have further augmented this
increased growth rate. The strongest effect of the momentum was observed during 1980-2012
period. The consequence of this effect was a size increase in the population aged 60-65 years
and over as shown in Figure 1.

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