Mary Ann Erickson

Associate Professor, Gerontology


Courses with content related to aging often include a discussion of how the U.S. population is aging.  Often, however, we fail to put these changes in a global context.  Population aging is happening in almost every country, and many countries are further along in population aging than the U.S.  Introducing this idea will hopefully lead students to have questions about other aspects of aging, such as health and long-term care.

 Power Point files:

  • “Global Population Aging” is an overview of the topic.
  • “Demographic Pursuit” can be used as a class activity with the Kinsella and Phillips reading.
  • “Demographics of Aging” focuses on the U.S. but incorporates information on global changes.

Suggested readings

Kinsella, Kevin and Phillips, David R.  2005.  “Global Aging:  The Challenge of Success.”  Population Bulletin 60(1).

This is an excellent comprehensive look at global population aging.  The entire issue is long (almost 40 pages), but is well-written and clearly organized.  This is appropriate for upper-level undergraduate classes.  Available at

United Nations.  2002.  “World Population Ageing:  1950-2050”.  Report from the Department of Economic and Social Affairs.  Available at

Very thorough treatment of population aging with many useful tables.  The discussion is focused more narrowly on demography than in the Kinsella and Phillips reading. 

Suggested websites

Population Reference Bureau

Excellent resource with a wide variety of publications on the demography of aging.  Easiest access to aging-related resources by choosing “Aging” from the drop-down menu labeled “Browse by Topic”.

International Data Base of the U.S. Census Bureau

Easy access to data on all countries, including population pyramids.  Good interface, accessible on main page by clicking on “Data Access”.

United Nations Population Division, World Population Ageing report

Attached to the reading discussed above are very complete and easy-to-read tables on world areas, regions, and countries.  Access this data by clicking on the links under “Profiles of ageing”.

 Possible class activities

Demographic “Pursuit”.

Assign the Kinsella and Phillips reading.  In class, divide the class into teams to answer questions based on the reading.  A Power Point presentation can be used to present both questions and answers in an easy format.

Country Profiles.

Have individual students or small groups investigate the demographic situation of different regions or countries, using the web resources cited above.  Students can present their findings to the class, discovering similarities and differences.