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Asked who should care for the elderly, people in 13 of the 21 nations pointed mostly to government, with public opinion ranging as high as 63 percent in Russia. These countries were generally less confident about their future standards of living.

The U.S., South Korea, Germany and Britain were the only countries surveyed in which more than a third of respondents said the elderly bear the most responsibility for their own well-being, as opposed to government or their families.

Widespread aging will have a financial impact. Public pension spending as a share of the gross domestic product is expected to rise in all surveyed countries except Mexico and India from now until 2050, the report said. South Korea, China, Brazil and Russia are projected to see big jumps in spending, while pension expenditures in the U.S. will remain modest due to less-rapid population aging as well as government efforts to limit spending, such as by raising the retirement age.

The Pew study was based on an analysis of United Nations population data as well as Pew surveys conducted in 21 countries from March 3 to April 21, 2013. The Pew surveys had 22,425 responses. The countries were Argentina, Brazil, Britain, China, Egypt, France, Germany, Indonesia, Israel, Italy, Japan, Kenya, Mexico, Nigeria, Pakistan, Russia, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Turkey and the United States.

The margin of error for the global survey varies across countries, from plus or minus 3.1 percentage points in Spain to 7.7 percentage points in Turkey.

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Online:

Pew Research Center: www.pewresearch.org

Pew report: http://www.pewglobal.org/2014/01/30/attitudes-about-aging-a-global-perspective/