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What are the implications of an ageing population?
Society is changing. The past 50 years have seen a dramatic shift in the age composition of societies in the more developed regions of the world, and the next 50 years will see even more changes.
Read our related article: Our World's Population is Ageing
- 1950 - there was more than twice as many children as there were older adults.
- 2013 - the number of older adults had surpassed that of children.
- 2050 - there will be twice as many older people as there are children
| (Developed world) || Children (< 15) || Older People (>= 60)
||27% of population
||12% of population
||16% of population
||23% of population
||16% of population
||32% of population
There are many ramifications of this shift in our population
Some of these include:
- The rate of participation in the workforce will fall and so will economic growth.
- Increase in the dependency ratio. Less people working, supporting more people in retirement.
- Decrease in income tax revenue for the government.
- Increase in government expenditure in the areas of welfare, health and aged care.
- Health care will see a shift from acute to chronic conditions (heart disease, dementia, arthiritis, osteoporosis etc).
- Shortage of workers which in turn could push wages higher and lead to wage inflation.
- Shortage of health care workers to support the aged care community.
- Older people will become the decision makers - the electoral muscle of society.
- Products and services at large will need to be geared towards an older audience - they will be driving forces of supply and demand.
What can we do to manage population ageing?
Population ageing is a global challenge. Some of the issues our governments will focus on include:
- Investing in the health and aged care sectors. There are many widely publicised problems in the existing aged care system. Some of the important issues include no minimum staff-to-patient ratios, low wages and lack of support.
- Find new ways to assist people to balance work and family, so that people want to have children.
- Finding better ways to support people caring for elderly relatives at home. Flexible work hours, access to community services, tax incentives etc.
- Finding ways to increase participation rates and encourage mature aged employment.
- Raising the retirement age inline with increasing life expectancy.
- Increasing superannuation incentives
- Increasing immigration. Immigration could potentially defuse the impact of population aging because it is generally younger people who immigrate.
- Finding ways to address ageism. Ageism is the stereotyping of, and discrimination against, individuals or groups because of their age. Age is one social category that we all hope to eventually join in. Despite this and despite the well-known growth of the older population, age-based prejudice is rife.