Israel's over-60 population is set to rapidly outpace similar population projections for the rest of the world. According to the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs World Population Prospects for 2004, Israel currently has 891,000 citizens over the age of 60, comprising 13.3 percent of the population.
To help deal with potential problems, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem is set to launch a Knowledge Center for the research of Israel's aging population. Combining forces with Minister of Science and Technology Matan Vilna'i and National Insurance Institute director-general Dr. Yigal Ben-Shalom, the Israel Gerontological Data Center (IGDC) is to be one of several centers recently established in order to further scientific inquiry into the phenomenon.
The current world population over the age of 60 stands at 10.4%. In 2015, that number will rise to 12.4%, while in Israel that figure will be at 16.1%.
In 1950, two years after the country's founding, only 6.3 percent of Israel's population was over 60. One hundred years later, by 2050, they will comprise a full quarter of the Israeli population, according to the latest UN report.
"It won't be easy," Ministry of Social Affairs spokesperson Nachum Ido commented regarding the imminent 'Zaidy Boom'.
"The amount of people who won't be contributing to the economy is going to dramatically increase with the aging of this generation. More taxes will be inevitable because we will need to ensure that a huge sector of Israelis is cared for, especially those without pension."
"The dramatic increase in life expectancy together with the unprecedented growth rate of elderly within the population poses unusual challenges to society," Professor Howie Litwin of the Hebrew University School of Social Work and Social Welfare said.
"The Knowledge Center will promote better understanding of the aging process of Israel's population and the social, economical and health phenomena that accompany it."
Academics and scientists from a wide range of fields including social science, health and gerontology came together to establish the IGDC, which is housed at the Paul Baerwald School of Social Work and Social Welfare at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. The Center's comprehensive Web site, http://igdc.huji.ac.il, supplies a database of linked aging-related records and a computerized bibliography.