IELTS Writing Task 2: An Ageing Population

Nov 22, 2021 | IELTS, IELTS Test, IELTS Writing

This week’s model answer tackles the question type that asks whether something is a positive or negative development.

With this kind of question, you could follow a 4- or 5-paragraph model. You might devote each body paragraph to something positive, or something negative, or go for a mixture of both. 

If you are aiming for band 9.0, it might be best to include something from both points of view – or else the examiner might conclude that something could be added to the essay, meaning it is not as fully developed as it could be.

Here is an outline of how this model essay has been approached…

Introduction: with the position

1st Body Paragraph: outlining some of the negatives

2nd Body Paragraph: balancing the above paragraph with some positives

Conclusion: summarising and paraphrasing the main points

The Question

You should spend about 40 minutes on this task.

Write about the following topic:

For the first time in history, there are more people over 64 than children younger than 5.

Is this a positive or negative development?

Give reasons for your answer and include any relevant examples from your own knowledge or experience.

Write at least 250 words.

IELTS Writing Task 2 Model Answer - Positive or negative development: An Ageing Population © Andrew Turner @

The Answer

An ageing population is likely to be a negative development in many societies unless both governments and individuals make some changes to policy and behaviour. When the number of people needing care increases, so too does the risk that too few people are contributing to the costs of providing that care. Also of concern is quality of life in our older years; while we may well be living longer lives as a society, we’re not necessarily living healthier ones. Both of these issues can, however, be addressed.

The most pressing difficulty in an ageing population is that older people have greater care needs, and the responsibility falls largely to a welfare system funded by working-age people. The system is therefore dependent on at least as many people entering the workforce as are leaving it – which isn’t currently happening. At the same time, many people are living longer but are spending their later years in poor health, as is evidenced by the rapid rise in diagnoses of long-term conditions such as Type 2 diabetes. The resulting healthcare costs are further burdening an already strained system. 

It isn’t, though, all bad news. Nations in need of more working-age people can capitalise on population growth in less developed parts of the world to address labour shortages and fund their welfare states. Japan, for example, is already adopting this approach. For individuals, meanwhile, behaviour change is often all that is required to live a longer and healthier life, reducing the likelihood of hospital admissions and enabling more people to remain in the workforce. Digital health tools are making support to make such changes more accessible than ever. 

In conclusion, an ageing population could potentially create societal problems. However, there is a clear way forward in filling labour market gaps and facilitating positive lifestyle changes.  

What Next?

Purchase a writing correction package and write your own answer to this question.

If you would like more guidance, you can buy a video course about IELTS Writing on this page.

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