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September 2005

Population ageing, sustainable development and food security in rural areas of Bolivia and Chile

Dr Gerardo Gonzalez
Population and Development Service
FAO Gender and Development Division

The simultaneous processes of demographic transition and urbanization currently underway in Latin America are giving rise to a significant phenomenon of rural population ageing, demonstrated by substantial increases in the proportion of “older people” (persons aged 60 and over) in the rural population. This phenomenon is affecting the demographic composition of rural households, the structure of the rural labour force and the supply of agricultural labour. Rural population ageing thus represents a major issue for rural communities and the sustainability of agricultural/rural development in Latin America.

The purpose of this paper, commissioned by the Population and Development Service of FAO, is to add to the understanding of the scope and nature of rural population ageing in Latin America, and to highlight its implications for food security and rural development in the region. Based on information provided by recent population censuses and surveys, the paper focuses on selected rural areas in Bolivia and Chile, which differ in terms of their demographic, cultural, social and economic characteristics. A detailed analysis is undertaken to examine long-term trends in population ageing; demographic and social profile of rural elderly (including gender differences); older persons’ access to agricultural land; and the incidence of poverty in rural areas. The concluding section summarizes key findings and spells out implications for agricultural and rural development policies.

Click here to view the paper.

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