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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Population Graying in Ex-Soviet Areas

WASHINGTON -- Populations in many countries of Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union will be among the oldest in the world by 2025, the World Bank said Wednesday.

It urged governments to enact policies that boost productivity and labor force participation to deal with the trend.

The median age of populations in Europe will increase from 38 to 49 in 2050, more than 20 years beyond the median age in Africa, the bank said in a report. Spain, with half its population older than 55 by 2050, will be the oldest country in the world, followed closely by Italy and Austria. "But the fastest-aging countries over the next two decades will be in those of Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union, the result of unprecedented declines in fertility and rising life expectancies," the report said.

The region is projected to see its total population shrink by almost 24 million over the next two decades. Russia alone is projected to lose 17 million from its current level of 145 million people.