Aging - elders need the Gospel too

Jan 02, 2017

The UN definition of an adult is an individual over the age of 15. In 1900, adults were 1.1 billion out of 1.6 billion total people (so there were more over-15s than under-15s). Today there are 7.5 billion total people, of whom 5.5 billion are adults (leaving 2 billion children).

By 2050, there will likely be 7.6 billion adults in the midst of 9.7 billion people, or roughly the same ratio.Some places have higher birth rates and therefore younger (on average) populations. In others - and particularly in some unevangelized regions - declining birth rates means the population is ‘aging’.

In the table below, we look at the situation in a slightly different fashion: the total population under the age of 15, versus the total population over 65; or, children vs. seniors. The final column shows the ratio between these two populations, presented as children divided by seniors. In low-income countries, for example, children under the age of 15 outnumber seniors six times over.

This kind of ratio suggests how ministry resources might be strategically allocated. In low-income countries, obviously more resources should be devoted to ministry to children than to ministry to seniors, in the sense that there are more children to minister to. But in many countries, the division is nearly equal. People are living longer, and having fewer children.

We must become just as good at ministering to the elderly (especially in places where the ratio is under 1.0) as we are at ministering to children. Unfortunately, anecdotally it appears to me there are far more short-term trips to minister to children than to senior citizens.

<td align=right>Under-15s</td><td align=right>Over-65s</td><td align=right>15:65 ratio</td><td align=right>2 072 893</td><td align=right>1 461 440</td><td align=right>1.42</td><td align=right>448 177</td><td align=right>69 116</td><td align=right>6.48</td><td align=right>962 492</td><td align=right>450 011</td><td align=right>2.14</td><td align=right>423 109</td><td align=right>569 227</td><td align=right>0.74</td><td align=right>238 366</td><td align=right>372 305</td><td align=right>0.64</td><td align=right>1 385 601</td><td align=right>1 019 238</td><td align=right>1.36</td><td align=right>201 538</td><td align=right>325 024</td><td align=right>0.62</td><td align=right>1 871 354</td><td align=right>1 136 416</td><td align=right>1.65</td><td align=right>1 292 707</td><td align=right>1 021 962</td><td align=right>1.26</td><td align=right>578 647</td><td align=right>114 454</td><td align=right>5.06</td><td align=right>1 686 034</td><td align=right>775 122</td><td align=right>2.18</td><td align=right>797 574</td><td align=right>133 313</td><td align=right>5.98</td><td align=right>283 247</td><td align=right>43 330</td><td align=right>6.54</td><td align=right>129 821</td><td align=right>14 279</td><td align=right>9.09</td><td align=right>86 468</td><td align=right>38 690</td><td align=right>2.23</td><td align=right>17 197</td><td align=right>6 921</td><td align=right>2.48</td><td align=right>280 842</td><td align=right>30 093</td><td align=right>9.33</td><td align=right>711 106</td><td align=right>94 623</td><td align=right>7.52</td><td align=right>948 460</td><td align=right>895 110</td><td align=right>1.06</td><td align=right>209 916</td><td align=right>421 153</td><td align=right>0.50</td><td align=right>154 429</td><td align=right>115 387</td><td align=right>1.34</td><td align=right>495 914</td><td align=right>309 689</td><td align=right>1.60</td><td align=right>88 201</td><td align=right>48 881</td><td align=right>1.80</td><td align=right>19 653</td><td align=right>9 549</td><td align=right>2.06</td><td align=right>476 261</td><td align=right>300 140</td><td align=right>1.59</td><td align=right>107 011</td><td align=right>185 601</td><td align=right>0.58</td><td align=right>40 430</td><td align=right>56 814</td><td align=right>0.71</td><td align=right>19 527</td><td align=right>27 693</td><td align=right>0.71</td><td align=right>18 331</td><td align=right>46 714</td><td align=right>0.39</td><td align=right>28 723</td><td align=right>54 380</td><td align=right>0.53</td><td align=right>134 030</td><td align=right>144 306</td><td align=right>0.93</td><td align=right>8 667</td><td align=right>8 883</td><td align=right>0.98</td><td align=right>40 869</td><td align=right>37 881</td><td align=right>1.08</td><td align=right>74 491</td><td align=right>93 338</td><td align=right>0.80</td><td align=right>11 326</td><td align=right>9 773</td><td align=right>1.16</td><td align=right>6 683</td><td align=right>8 450</td><td align=right>0.79</td><td align=right>4 309</td><td align=right>1 104</td><td align=right>3.90</td><td align=right>84 494</td><td align=right>97 542</td><td align=right>0.87</td><td align=right>152</td><td align=right>96</td><td align=right>1.59</td><td align=right>182</td><td align=right>123</td><td align=right>1.48</td>
Low-income countries
Lower-middle-income countries
Upper-middle-income countries
High-income countries
Middle-income countries
More developed regions
Less developed regions
Less developed regions, excluding least developed countries
Least developed countries
Less developed regions, excluding China
Eastern Africa
Middle Africa
Northern Africa
Southern Africa
Western Africa
Sub-Saharan Africa
Eastern Asia
South-Eastern Asia
South-Central Asia
Western Asia
Central Asia
Southern Asia
Eastern Europe
Northern Europe
Southern Europe
Western Europe
Central America
Australia/New Zealand
South America