State of Elderly in OIC Member Countries 2021
Date: 31 January 2022

SESRIC prepared the report on “State of Elderly in OIC Member Countries 2021” as a technical background document for the 2nd OIC Ministerial Conference on Social Development. This report thoroughly examines the state of the elderly in OIC countries by looking into the latest available data and information on labour market and economic integration, health and wellbeing, supportive environment, and culture as stipulated in the OIC Strategy on the Elderly. The report also provides a number of success stories and best practices to highlight the experiences of selected OIC member countries towards improving the overall state of the elderly and mitigating the impacts of COVID-19 on them.

According to the main findings of the report, the share of elderly people (population aged 60 or above) has increased from 5.7% in 1990 to 7.4% in 2020 in OIC countries. By 2050, this share is predicted to rise to 13.9%. The increase in the ageing population is a challenging issue for policy-makers as the wellbeing of elderly people depends heavily on the provision of proper healthcare and rehabilitation services as well as their integration into social, economic and cultural spheres. For instance, the average old-age dependency ratio of the OIC group is on rise, increasing from 6.2 in 2010 to 6.8 in 2019, indicating increasing pressure on social security systems and services.

Several OIC member countries have made significant strides in addressing challenges faced by the elderly and improving their wellbeing in numerous sectors over the last decade. Thanks to the improvements in healthcare services, for instance, the life expectancy at age 60 increased from 13.3 years in 2010 to 13.8 in 2019 in the OIC group. The achievements in addressing the needs of the elderly are not limited to the health sector in OIC countries as many of them like Egypt, Jordan, and Malaysia also designed new social assistance and cash transfer programmes for the elderly to provide them better opportunities.

Yet, there are still many areas of concern that need further improvements to mitigate challenges faced by the elderly and empower them. For instance, the share of elderly people receiving benefits from various pension schemes in OIC countries (31.5%), on average, stayed far below the average of the world (54%). The labour force participation rate of elderly males (from 36.4% to 34.8%) and the elderly female (from 16% to 15.5%) slightly regressed over the period 2010-2019 in OIC countries. A significant number of older people could not afford or access public health services such as due to physical or financial barriers (e.g. due to lack of social security protection) in some OIC countries. Violence, abuse, and age-based discrimination continued to affect many older persons in various OIC countries such as due to a lack of strong and effective legal protection and changing cultural values.

The report also highlights that, in addition to existing challenges faced by the elderly, the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic has also made several adverse effects on them such as limiting their social and economic participation due to the containment measures (e.g. lockdowns, curfews) and economic slowdown. Such measures have deteriorated the wellbeing of the elderly in many member countries, marking a need for additional measures to better protect them and mitigate those new challenges brought by the pandemic. In the end, the report provides a set of policy recommendations to promote ‘healthy and active ageing’ programmes and practices that can help not only to preserve elders’ physical and mental capacities but also encourage their active involvement in the socio-economic development process in OIC countries.

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