Turkey's elderly population has increased by 17 percent in the last five years according to the newest official figures amid concerns over projections that the aging rate of the populace will steadily increase in the near future.
Official figures released yesterday by the state-run Turkish Statistical Institute (TurkStat) show that the elderly population - people 65 and over - increased 17 percent from 2013 to 2017 and rose to 6.8 million. Announced ahead of "Respect the Elderly Week" that starts on March 18, the numbers show the majority of elderly are women.
Turkish officials acknowledge and worry about the aging population, which, under current projections, will average 16 percent in 2040 - from a projected 8.7 percent this year - and by the end of century, will account for 25.6 percent of the overall population. Experts link these projections to a decline in fertility and the availability of new treatments that increase longevity.
The majority of those in the elderly population are between the ages of 65 and 74, TurkStat said. It added that Turkey is in 66th among the 167 countries with the highest proportion of elderly people.
In relation to the aging phenomenon, the median age of the populace has also increased, from 30.4 in 2013 to 31.7 last year.
Turks have 17 or more years to live once they are 65 according to the statistics on average life spans. It is about 19 years for women and 16 years for men.
The elderly naturally remain a burden on the country's economy. The elderly dependency ratio or the number of elderly people per hundred of working age, rose to 12.6 percent from 11.3.
Sinop, a small, quiet city that often tops the chart of "cities with the happiest populations" also has the highest proportion of elderly citizens, TurkStat says. This Black Sea city where the elderly population rate is 18.2 percent is followed by Kastamonu, another small city in northern Turkey. The lowest proportions of elderly are in southeastern cities generally known for large younger populations and marriages. Şırnak has the lowest rate of elderly people at 3.2 percent.
Statistics also show that the number of centenarians in the country is 5,416, and most live in Istanbul and southeastern cities of Şanlıurfa and Mardin.