The population of Brazil is aging at the fastest rate in its historythat would sap momentum from Latin America’s largest economy after a decade of lackluster growth.
The proportion of citizens aged 65 or older increased to 10.9% in 2022 from 7.4% in 2010, according to data from the Brazilian statistics agency, or IBGE, published on Friday. The proportion of elderly is now the highest since 1940, the oldest comparable census data.
“We are aging quickly compared to developed countries,” Izabel Marri, a demographer at IBGE, said in an interview. “It took France and England 200 years to do what Brazil did in 40 or 60”.
Brazil’s rapid aging has raised concerns about how the South American country will cope with the increased social costs of caring for its elderly. As the loss of its demographic advantage approaches (when active workers outnumber retirees), Economists and demographers are quick to point out that many people lack savings and that the government has no policies to finance their pensions and health care costs.
“Finally, the State must take care of the elderly” Marri said.
Brazil began a period of rapid growth after the turn of the century. China extracted natural resources such as beef and iron ore, and export revenues helped finance welfare programs that lifted millions of Brazilians into the ranks of the middle class. But commodity growth faltered in the 2010s and the economy grew by less than 1% per year on average during that decade.
Social indicators such as education and life expectancy have improved, but Marcelo Neri, an economist at the Getulio Vargas Foundation in Rio de Janeiro, says the gains have not translated into a more productive workforce. “”We have social progress, but we have no economic responsibility.”said.
At the same time, the rate of population growth in Brazil, which amounts to about 203 million people, has slowed sharply. In 2022, it fell to 6.5%, the slowest pace on record, from 12.3% in 2010.