At the second meeting of the Regional Conference on Population and Development in Mexico, the primary effects of an aging population and maternal mortality on Latin America and the Caribbean were discussed Wednesday.
The Latin America and Caribbean population is projected to rise from 635 million currently to 793 million by 2061, and the median age of the populace is also expected to increase. However, the old is expected to eventually outnumber the young.
"The population aged 65 or older will exceed that of persons under 20,” Latin American and Caribbean Demographic Center Population Division Director Dick Jaspers said. Specifically, this reality is projected to occur in Cuba and Chile by 2030 and Colombia, Brazil and Mexico by 2045.
And while a large part of the region has improved its living standards and economic growth, births have lagged behind. In fact, in the 1950s and 1960s, the average number of children a mother had was seven, but today, that figure has reduced to roughly two-and-a-half.
“These changes in the age structure have specific implications for the areas of education, health and pensions,” Jaspers said.
With these "changes" to the population's age structure, in 15 years, a third of countries in Latin America and the Caribbean will no longer enjoy the demographic bonuses that come with having a dominant youth population.
This phenomenon, known as “aged economies,” is projected to extend to the entire region by 2060, with the exception of Bolivia, Paraguay and a few Caribbean countries.
Other pressing issues discussed at the conference include maternal and infant mortality rates. While the region has experienced reduced infant mortality, with two-thirds of infant deaths being reduced between 1990 and 2013, the region missed its target of reducing maternal mortality by 36 percent.
Two additional conferences -- based on the Montevideo Consensus on Population and Development report -- will be held to further address the gender, sexual and reproductive health, aging and Afro-descended and indigenous population issues of the region.