A quarter of the Maltese population last year was made up of people aged over 60 with women tipping the scale at 55 per cent.

In 2010, more than 95,000 people, or 23 per cent of the population, consisted of individuals aged 60 and over, the National Statistics Office said on the occasion of the International Day of Older People.

There were 51 grooms and 14 brides aged 60 and over who tied the knot last year. Nearly half did so for the first time.

Projections showed an increasing trend in the percentage of the population aged over 59, up from 23 per cent in 2010 to 38 per cent in 2060. Such an increase in the proportion of elderly persons could be explained by a steady increase in life expectation and a relatively low fertility rate registered over the past years.

The total government expenditure on social benefits when it came to retirement amounted to €390 million, or 53 per cent of total security benefits. About 95 per cent of these were contributory benefits.

There was an increase of 15 per cent in total government expenditure on retirement and old-age pensions when compared to 2009. This was mainly attributed to 20 per cent increase in the two-thirds pensions.

Figures derived from the 2009 statistics on income and living conditions showed that elderly people were at a higher risk of poverty than their younger counterparts. The risk-at-poverty rate for people aged 60 and over stood at 19 per cent while that for younger age groups was 14 per cent.

Nearly 65 per cent of the elderly felt they could not afford to pay for a week’s annual holiday away from home and 11 per cent could not afford to eat a meal that includes meat, chicken, fish (or vegetarian equivalent) every second day. Moreover, 31 per cent said their household could not afford to face unexpected expenses of €450 and over and 13 per cent said that they were not able to keep their home adequately warm.

The NSO noted that past labour force surveys had revealed that the percentage of employed population aged 60 and over was on the rise, amounting to 7.1 per cent in 2010.

About 42 per cent of all deaths among people aged 65 and over in 2010 were a result of diseases of the circulatory system.

Some 59 people aged 60 and over followed a part-time or full-time course at the University. The majority of them, 58 per cent, were men. An increase of 13 per cent in the number of students aged over 59 was noted when compared to 2009.

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