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ECLAC: Aging population to characterize 21st century Latin America

Santiago, Nov 12 (EFE).- An aging population will characterize the Latin American and Caribbean region in the 21st century, a phenomenon attributable to lower fertility rates and longer life expectancy, the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean said in a study released here Wednesday.

Life expectancy in the region has climbed from 55.7 years in the 1950-1955 period, which was around 10 years below the average for most developed countries, to 74.7 years in the 2010-2015 period, just five years behind developed nations, the study said.

That indicator is mainly attributable to a reduction in the region’s infant mortality rate, the U.N. regional commission said.

The study, titled “The New Demographic Era in Latin America and the Caribbean: Time for Equality According to the Population Clock,” was presented at the first meeting of the Presiding Officers of the Regional Conference on Population and Development in Latin America and the Caribbean, which began Wednesday and will run through Friday at ECLAC’s headquarters in Santiago.

The region was home to 512 million people in 2000, up from 161 million people in 1950.

Forecasts indicate the population will climb to 734 million in 2050 before falling to 687 million inhabitants in 2100.

Latin America had one of the world’s highest reproductive rates in 1950-1955 – nearly six children per woman – but that level has fallen to less than 2.2 children per woman in 2010-2015, slightly below the global median of 2.3.

“This situation entails new challenges for the region in terms of taking advantage of these demographic opportunities to reduce inequality,” ECLAC said, adding that that will depend on which measures are taken in the economic, political and social spheres.