We have a super-ageing population. Thanks to breakthroughs in public health and disease management the global population is getting older. In short, fewer people are dying young and more people are surviving to old age. This presents us with an interesting set of issues.
Already three countries are super-aged. They have more than twenty per cent of the population older than sixty five. I think Japan was the first of the three, joined by Germany and Italy.
According to a report by Elena Duggar and Madhavi Bokil for Moody’s Investor Service, ‘demographic transition is now upon us.’ The world is becoming a very different place from what it was only a few decades ago.
It is not going to stop soon. Extrapolation can be dangerous but within three years the number of super-aged countries will rise to thirteen. Only ten years later the number will be thirty four. It may well be that until the current lower birth rates work through, we will not see the trend declining.
Is this a cause to celebrate or one to be concerned about? That depends upon whether, as a society we see old age as something to venerate or something to despise. Is it a risk we treat or tolerate?
On the one hand there will be a greater demand upon social and health services. Older people tend to be more frail and require more medical attention. Yet there will be more people with leisure time who are able to pursue their interests free from the need to go to work every day.
There will be a greater strain upon the working population. There will be fewer people earning enough to pay the taxes that society demands. This could be offset by increasing value added taxes however. Older people will still need to consume. Yet there will be more people with greater experience of life and this could be a fantastic resource to resolve some of life’s seemingly intractable problems.
The young may have to work longer and retire late as life expectancy continues to grow. Yet there may be a greater pool of living grandparents and great grandparents to help with the parenting duties.
I have no idea what can be done about super-ageing, if anything but it is interesting. It may be something that just is and society will sort itself out over time. It won’t be long until I am super-aged myself.