Aging Populations in Nations
01 January 2015
Aging Population and its Social Impact
Media has a name to call population aging, it is “graying”. We might have heard it from the news, internet, and our workplaces, but we might not have understood how an aging population can affect our country, and our society. That is why we intend to answer that question with our essay. What does an again population mean and how can a graying population affect or society and our economy? In this essay, we aim to answer that question and support our claim with statistics that could prove that the population aging is a trend that is happening and needs to be taken into account.
With decreased mortality rates and increased longevity, developed countries have been experiencing less population shift than other, less developed countries. Especially in countries such as Japan, Generally, and The United States where professionals refuse to have children to focus on their career goals. However, it’s true that “Global aging, the increasing share of old people throughout the world, reflects the demographic transition from high fertility, rural agrarian societies to low-fertility industrialized societies” (Hayutin 15). As we can see, the shift is necessary in order to keep economies stable; but, how can a graying population, with less and less youth be economically viable? It looks that “… from a purely economic perspective, the graying of societies is not a bad thing per se. As long as the private and public sector are flexible enough to adjust to the newly emerging societal structures, aging is unlikely to have much effect on economic growth.” (Bloom et al 9).
After sorting the economic issue, we have the social issue left. Can graying populations affect countries socially? As population ages, and women get richer, educated and autonomous, they decide on having fewer babies. Add to that the struggle that many households have to survive. Since many houses need women’s wages to survive, children are out of the question. We can attribute this population decrease to “… changes in fertility in the developing world and can be ascribed to a number of factors, including declines in infant mortality, greater levels of female education, increased labor market opportunities for women, and the provision of family planning services” (Bloom et al 5)
Offering tax exemptions and plots of land to those who have more children could be a solution. However, in earth with less and fewer resources, it’s possible that keep on expanding might not be a solution. One of the most important achievements of the world’s population is the rising of life expectancy. In the U.S. the life expectancy raised from 45 to 76 in the 2004 (Infoplease.com). However, the increased life expectancy has combined with a low birth-rate. As we stated earlier in our essay, if population growth stalls, the population will necessarily age. With that in mind, it is necessary to find a way to provide and care for those who are not going to be able to do it for themselves. We researched and found that Japan, one of the countries with more elderly population found a promising solution. Before it, family members were completely responsible for their elderly, now the country has instated a long-term care insurance, and offered social care to those who needed it. The system is partly funded by the citizens, and the government. It has become a great alternative to taking care of neglected citizens, and could really help with understanding long-term ageing. (The Guardian) Notwithstanding, as we shall explain further in our essay, the population ageing will substantially shrink the workforce, and, who is going to pay for that care?
Concerning the effects that an ageing populations can cause in the countries. For instance, what we can foresee is that the ratio of people over 50 years working, would drop. If those workers retire and are on pension plans, it could cripple the countries’ economies, as they would have to put on a huge amount of money for the upkeep and maintenance of the aging workers. In the same way, if population ages, the workforce would shrink, causing an economic recession. Europe’s case is much worse than it is for the U.S. In Germany 16% of the population is over the age of 65. The United States is still not suffering as much as the European countries are, but it is likely that in the 2050, a shortage of workforce occurs. Immigration could alleviate the problem, but it would only slow an unavoidable trend. And if the younger population is not able to support the older, what would happen to them? (Wiener & Tilly 778). It is likely that in the next 50 years we will see a dramatic change in our population, as it would drastically grow, but it would not a growth that be sustained by the rest of the population. In developed countries, this might not be considered an immediate concern, but we should be prepared for it when it happens, as the economic burden imposed by the aging population could severely cripple our economy.
D. Bloom, D. Canning, and Günther Fink. The graying of Global Population and its Macroeconomic Consequences, 2008. Web http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/program-on-the-global-demography-of-aging/WorkingPapers/2009/PGDA_WP_47.pdfHayautin, Adelle Graying of the Local Population. Public Policy and Aging Report, 2008. Web http://longevity3.stanford.edu/wp-content/uploads/2012/10/PPAR-Graying_of_the_Global_Population_Jan_20081.pdfHolder, H. “Japan’s Solution to Providing Care for an Ageing Population.” The Guardian 27 Mar. 2014. Web. 12 Apr. 2015. <http://www.theguardian.com/social-care-network/2014/mar/27/japan-solution-providing-care-ageing-population>.
Weiner, J., and J. Tilly. “Population Ageing in the United States of America: Implications for Public Programmes.” International Journal of Epidemiology 31.4 (2002): 776-81. Oxford Journals. Web. <http://ije.oxfordjournals.org/content/31/4/776.full>.
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