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Policy Review: Growing Old the Hard Way: China, Russia, India

Author: Nicholas N. Eberstadt, Henry Wendt Chair in Political Economy, American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
April & May 2006

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Over the next generation, it seems entirely likely—indeed, all but inevitable—that a large fraction of humanity, peopling countries within the grouping often termed emerging market economies, will find themselves coping with the phenomenon of population aging on income levels far lower than those yet witnessed in any society with comparable degrees of graying. For such countries, the social and economic consequences of aging could be harsh—and the options for mitigating the adverse effects of population aging may be fairly limited. In some of these countries, population aging could potentially emerge as a factor appreciably constraining long-term growth and development.

Rapid and pronounced population aging represents a highly uneven, largely unappreciated, and as yet almost entirely undiscounted long-term risk for the world's emerging markets.

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