Zenit has a piece on the demographic cliff toward which we are hurtling. Hopefully Jonathon Last's new book will get people talking, and thinking.
"A country without children is a nation without a future." According to a recent post on the Demography Matters blog, this was a comment by Portuguese President Aníbal Cavaco Silva, referring to his country’s low birth rate.
The post noted that the number of births in Portugal has been below the level needed to replace the current population since the early 80s. Moreover, the stagnating economy is leading younger Portuguese to emigrate in search of jobs, keeping the youth unemployment rate to only 38.3%, quite a bit better than the situation in neighboring Spain, at over 55%.
The economy is still shrinking, government and private sector debt is enormous, and, as the blog post commented, “So with less people working and paying into the welfare system, less GDP, and huge debts the numbers simply don’t add up.”
Portugal is by no means alone in struggling to cope with an aging population.
“Britain is ‘woefully under-prepared’ to cope with an expected explosion of older people and ministers need to respond by raising the retirement age and tackle the costs by reviewing pensioner benefits, a House of Lords inquiry concluded,” observed a March 14 article in Britain’s newspaper the Guardian.
It said that from 2010 to 2030 there is expected to be a 50% increase in people aged 65 and over and that Britain will need to make major changes in order to cope with this change.
The article stemmed from a report by a group of peers of the House of Lords. The “Select Committee on Public Service and Demographic Change - First Report Ready for Ageing?”
Living for longer is something to be celebrated, the report noted. This comes, however, with risks and costs and the fact that people can outlive their pensions and savings.
The report made a number of detailed proposals on how to deal with the growing number of elderly people and the economic pressures this will cause.
The problem is Europe-wide. On March 26 Eurostat, the statistical agency for the European Union, published demographic data for 2012. At the start of 2012 the number of persons aged 65 or over had grown to 18% of the total population, compared to 14% in 1992.