Possible ways forward
The big exceptions to this general greying are south Asia and Africa, where fertility is still high. Since these places are home to almost 3 billion people, rising to 5 billion by mid-century, their youth could be a powerful counter to the greying elsewhere. But they slow the change, not reverse it.
The received wisdom is that a larger proportion of old people means slower growth and, because the old need to draw down their wealth to live, less saving; that leads to higher interest rates and falling asset prices. Some economists are more sanguine, arguing that people adapt and work longer, rendering moot measures of dependency which assume no one works after the age of 65.
The implication of a population that is getting a lot older without growing much is that, unless the retirement age changes, there are fewer workers. That means less output unless productivity rises to compensate. Under the UN’s standard assumption that a working life ends at 65, and with no increases in productivity, aging populations could cut growth rates in parts of the rich world by between one-third and one-half over the coming years.
There are a number of ways in which to mitigate the potential economic and fiscal impacts of population aging. Here the potential of three plausible strategies in a UK context 1) boosting migration 2) raising productivity in the health sector and 3) encouraging longer working lives, are considered. There are, of course, more elements to consider including, and perhaps most importantly, the productivity of the labor force.
Migrant workers are typical of working age which implies they help to boost the labor supply and contribute to economic growth and tax revenues. As a consequence, migrant labor can help to boost economic output and support lower levels of government indebtedness.
It is assumed that productivity in health care rises by 2.2% per annum, but in reality, health productivity has only risen by 1.1% per annum since the 1970s. If the historical trend rate of growth in health care were to continue, debt to GDP would be 100 percentage points greater than if health care productivity rose according to planning. Delivering productivity increases in the health sector should, therefore, be a key public policy priority in responding to the challenges of population aging.
Longer working lives
The potential economic benefit of supporting the older workers who are involuntarily forced out of the labor market back into work is something to be studied. Participation should be done voluntary and under special conditions.
Social engagement is important for healthy aging. The elderly community is an option for people to live together in an organized way. In The Netherlands, there are experiments with housing communities with care facilities where the elderly live in rented or owned apartments. These apartments are designed to accommodate the individual with decreasing capacities in mind. The facilities are prepared for change and adaption. This kind of communities improve life and living and could be built all over the world. Living in a community is an adventure and a challenge.
End of life
The living is hard work. First, as a child, a person has to pass through many learning phases. Suddenly confronted with puberty the world feels like it is completely changing. It becomes harder and less enjoyable. Childhood is over and time to grow up starts after that. A few years on, for some a struggle and for others fun, the 20’s come along. School changes for higher education or work. The real world has begun.
During 20’s study and work keeps a person busy. Relationships start, some get married others stay single. Few are confronted with personal discoveries. Children are born and most settle down. A job, family, sorrow for tomorrow and so much more comes on everybody’s way. Life is a follow up from tomorrow’s wishes, wants and needs. But tomorrow hardly ever comes in peace and happiness.
Some people enter their 60’s in good health but most start to feel the pains of past labor and other reasons. Life becomes a duty, routine and for some a burden. Every single day it is another struggle to survive, to make something of the day, not even with a hope for change at tomorrow. Others can enjoy life and have it filled with activities. Most are based on personal choices, character, and environment. Not all. Sometimes disease plays the breaker.
Entering the 70’s, 80’s and for few, the 90’s is crossing a border every time of passing another marker. To some life becomes a burden, a serious source of unhappiness. Often after the loss of a partner, children or family members. Looking back on the life they consider; enough is enough.
But rules and regulations limit a choice of freedom. Life is not owned but it is linked to the responsibility of others. An individual life belongs to them (doctors and caretakers) as they are considered to be responsible. This is a strange situation but the laws are made this way. Nearly every law in the world has “the protection of life” as a part of their fundamental laws.
Euthanasia or suicide is illegal and there is an official punishment if failing to do so. Also for people who did not do everything to prevent others from doing so. Somebody gets punished when another person takes his / her life. But how can a person, who is persistent to end life, find a solution?
Some countries offer liberated laws for elderly and serious ill persons to come and end their life (Switzerland) but most countries stop you from going there if they are aware of the intentions. The Internet offers some solutions but most of these are dangerous or unsuccessful. There is a growing worldwide awareness of the problem as more people come at age. The solution is in closed groups of active elderly who support, with the help of well-educated and specialized professionals, end of life options.
Nearly every person loves to live long and prosperous but when the final curtain must fall it is good to be the person in charge and not suffer till the end.
Considerations of a changing society: