A Japanese worker (above) turns steel on a lathe at a factory in Tokyo. Japan has one of the oldest workforces in the world Tsuo Inouye/AP/File
Commuters walk across London Bridge during morning rush hour in London. England, like many European countries, faces debt problems rooted in part in the demographics of aging and the cost of pension programs. Getty Images
A Chinese worker sweeps a walkway at the Forbidden City, home to emperors past, in Beijing. China has one of the most rapidly aging societies in the world. It faces what is called the ‘4-2-1 problem’ – the idea that, thanks to the country’s one-child policy, each young worker may need to help take care of two parents and four grandparents. Jeff Hutchens/Getty Images
BBC employees, some holding placards, joined a strike outside the organization’s television center in west London in early November. It was part of a two-day journalists’ strike over planned changes to the organization’s pension system. Lefteris Pitarakis/AP
Employees of the National Agency for Employment (Pole Emploi) demonstrate over pension reforms in Paris last November. Despite widespread street protests, the French government raised the retirement age from 60 to 62 as part of a broad-based austerity package. Gonzalo Fuentes/Reuters
Supervisor Eric Headley (left) heads back to his office while working for Pimlico Plumbers in London. Britain has raised its fixed retirement age to help cope with a yawning budget crisis. Suzanne Plunkett/Reuters
Ren shuanggeng (r) provides information to two Census workers at his home in Beijing in November. China kicked off its once-a-decade census Monday, a whirlwind 10-day head count that will see 6 million census takers go door-to-door to document the massive demographic changes taking place in the world's most populous country. Ng Han Guan/AP
Former President Chávez targeted the country's poor with subsidies and programs funded by oil revenues. But with oil prices plummeting and poverty on the rise, this core base of supporters is being tested.
ByJ.J. Gallagher, Contributor
Carlos Garcia Rawlins/Reuters/File
Andre Mendes stands under a hot tropical sun, keeping a careful eye on the busy street in front of him. He diligently patrols the entrance to a complex of shops and condominiums, but what's offered inside is out of his reach. A hamburger in the building’s food court costs more than Mr. Mendes, security guard, makes in a day.