October 12, 2010

Earth's Senior Population Is Increasing - So What?

Think Again: Global Aging
"It's true that the world's population overall will increase by roughly one-third over the next 40 years, from 6.9 to 9.1 billion, according to the U.N. Population Division. But this will be a very different kind of population growth than ever before -- driven not by birth rates, which have plummeted around the world, but primarily by an increase in the number of elderly people. Indeed, the global population of children under 5 is expected to fall by 49 million as of midcentury, while the number of people over 60 will grow by 1.2 billion. How did the world grow so gray, so quickly?"

This article answers this question and re-examines some myths and conventional wisdom about population aging:

Aging is a "rich-country" problem.  No.
The West is doomed by demographics.  Maybe.
The U.S. baby boom has saved it from an old-age crisis.  For now.
Old people will just work longer.  But only if older workers are healthy.
An elderly world will be more peaceful.  Not necessarily.
A gray world will be a poorer world.  Only if we do nothing.

What should be done about the economic impact of global declining birthrates, elders living longer?  The author of this article, Phillip Longman, a fellow at the New America Foundation, senior fellow at the Washington Monthly and author of The Empty Cradlesays:

"The trick will be restoring what, in the days of family-owned farms and small businesses, was once true: that babies are an asset rather than a burden. Imagine a society in which parents get to keep more of the human capital they form by investing in their children. Imagine a society in which the family is no longer just a consumer unit, but a productive enterprise. The society that figures out how to restore the economic foundation of the family will own the future. The alternative is poor and gray indeed."

The question which no-one has yet answered is, says the author:  How do we get to this solution?

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