Old/young ratio: 1.251:1
65 years & over: 16.9%
0-14 years: 13.5%
With one of the world’s oldest populations, Latvia is expected to lose more than a tenth of its of 2.3 million people between 2000 and 2025, according to the World Bank.
The Baltic state is also the only country on our top 10 list that has more than double the number of elderly women (252,000) than men (122,000). In fact, women live 10 years longer than men in Latvia, which is among the highest gaps in life expectancy between genders in the European Union, according to the United Nations. On the whole, the country has seen its population decline at a rate of 0.5 percent annually from 2006 to 2010, while the percentage of people aged 65 and over has steadily increased.
Not only is Latvia facing a rapidly aging population, the country’s ability to support the old took a big hit during the 2009 financial crisis, when its economy suffered the deepest recession in the EU, nosediving 18 percent.
The government had to drastically cut its budget for a $10.2 billion bailout loan from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and EU. The austerity measures, which sparked a strong reaction from protesters (pictured), included a 10 percent cut in old-age pensions, and a massive 70 percent reduction in pensions for those still working. Pensioners account for 25 percent of Latvia’s population, while the labour force makes up only 43 percent, according to former Finance Ministry State Secretary Martins Bicevskis.