THE old are set to outnumber children for the first time in the world's history, a Dublin doctor said today.
Ireland is facing a huge spike in the numbers of over-75s -- with a population of almost 1,000,000 in three decades time.
The problem is not unique to Ireland, an international conference on global ageing in Croke Park will be told next November.
"By 2050, the world's population over 60 years old is forecast to reach two billion and to exceed the number of children for the first time," said Dr Roger O'Sullivan, director of the Centre for Ageing Research and Development in Ireland, which will host the conference.
"On the island of Ireland, by 2041, the number of people aged 75 plus is due to reach almost one million, with 30pc of the population aged over 60.
"Ageing on this scale is unprecedented and has significant consequences for every society in the 21st century from economic, social and policy perspectives."
The Dublin conference aims to "provide a showcase" for research on ageing and should provide a valuable forum for debate on the development of policies that will promote quality of life and the active participation of older people in Ireland and across the globe, Dr O'Sullivan said.
Speakers at the conference will include world authorities in the field of ageing research, including Michael Marmot, Professor of Epidemiology and Public Health, University College London, and chair of the Commission on Social Determinants of the World Health Organisation.
Experts from Canada and the UK will be joined by national figures from Ireland including Professor Rose Anne Kenny, head of the Department of Medical Gerontology, Trinity College Dublin, and Director of the Centre for Successful Ageing, St James Hospital, Dublin.
The conference will feature 180 presentations over two days and with representatives from 40 universities and 30 NGO's from 16 countries
President Mary McAleese will officially open the Ageing Globally -- Ageing Locally conference in Croke Park on November 2 and 3 next.