This measure, together with priority measure 25 (the central part of which is to “formulate policies to take advantage of the unique opportunity provided by the demographic dividend”), seeks to develop policy responses to changes in the age structure, a key issue for population and development. These measures also fall within the general framework of priority measure 4 of chapter A, which refers to “integration of population dynamics into sustainable development planning”. An important prerequisite for the success of these measures is implementation of priority measure 3, which will provide the institutional support needed to design and execute these policies.
Demographic change is one of the most significant forces shaping the outcomes of social policy, but it is not evident in the short term. Its impact is immediately apparent when a mid- to long-term approach is adopted, as recommended by priority measure 19. Several governments, aware of the impacts of population ageing, have begun to develop official long-term budgetary projections, including Australia, New Zealand and the United States, as well as the European Union. ECLAC has also conducted long-term forecast studies on public spending for a number of countries in the region.
There is no standard definition for what constitutes medium and long term in a demographic context. In general, however, the timeframe should be measured in decades, rather than in years. For example, in the studies mentioned above, the projection timeframes vary from 40 to 70 years.
Possible lines of action
1. Prepare periodic reports that take into account the medium- and long-term financial and economic impact of changes in the age structure, based on long-term projections of the population by age in different sectors (health, education, pensions). 2. Incorporate the results of these reports into public policies, plans and programmes at all political and administrative levels and in planning for sustainable development in general.
Related instruments, forums and mechanisms
Political Declaration of the Second World Assembly on Ageing: article 8 (“We commit ourselves to the task of effectively incorporating ageing within social and economic strategies, policies and action while recognizing that specific policies will vary according to conditions within each country. We recognize the need to mainstream a gender perspective into all policies and programmes to take account of the needs and experiences of older women and men”).
Madrid International Plan of Action on Ageing, paragraph 15 of the introduction (“Mainstreaming ageing into global agendas is essential. A concerted effort is required to move towards a wide and equitable approach to policy integration. The task is to link ageing to other frameworks for social and economic development and human rights. Whereas specific policies will vary according to country and region, population ageing is a universal force that has the power to shape the future as much as globalization”).