BBC World News Horizons examines the impact of rapidly ageing global population

Date: 25.04.2013     Last updated: 18.03.2014 at 17.51
Category: BBC World News
In the fourth episode of the series, Adam Shaw travels to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Boston to meet Joseph F. Coughlin, founder of the MIT AgeLab, one of the world’s foremost authorities on the social and economic impact of ageing.

In some areas around the world the fastest growing section of the population is aged over 85. It has been estimated that within the next five years, for the first time in the history of mankind, there will be more adults aged over 65 than children under five worldwide.

In this episode, Adam and Dr. Coughlin discuss the shifting global demographics of ageing, the impact this is having on society and how technologies are being developed to help us not only live longer, but also live better as life expectancy increases.

Reporter, Akiko Fujita, visits Tokyo University to meet the team at the JSK laboratory who believe that assistive domestic robots could replace human carers and provide the key to catering for the needs of Japan’s increasingly elderly population, which is one of the fastest ageing nations in the world.

In part two, Adam and Dr Coughlin discuss the extensive work researchers at AgeLab are doing with leading companies to translate insights in consumer behaviour and decision-making into business innovation and new technologies.

“We have taught business for 50-60 years to focus on the youth, because there was this endless supply of youth willing to buy the new and the exciting,” Says Dr. Coughlin .

“The youth just got old. In the US in particular, one baby boomer is now turning 66 every seven seconds. So businesses have to re-learn what they have always done. It has always focused on the young, when the money, the numbers, and the demand is now on the old.”

Adam gets first-hand experience of some of the issues facing older consumers when he takes a trip to a supermarket wearing AGNES – the Age Gain Now Empathy System – a head to toe ageing suit that recreates some of the visual and mobility issues affecting the elderly in everyday life.

He also tries his hand behind the wheel of Miss Daisy, a driving simulator designed to evaluate how things like physical weakness, cognitive distraction or mobility limitations can be improved by in-vehicle technology

The Horizons series, sponsored by DuPont, airs weekly on Saturdays at 01:30 and 08:30, Sundays at 14:30 and 20:30 (all times GMT).

The sponsorship arrangement was facilitated by BBC Advertising, which sells advertising and sponsorship solutions on behalf of BBC World News and

Further information, online videos and behind the scenes content can be found at (non-UK only) or follow Horizons on Facebook: and/or on twitter at @horizonsbiz.

Notes to Editors

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