What does a world with billions of old people look like?

Apartments in Singapore’s Queenstown district will soon offer slip-resistant floors and wide doorways to accommodate wheelchairs. In Japan, a recently built light railway in the northern city of Toyama has carriages that, when they pull into a station, attach tightly to the platforms, ensuring that the elderly do not cross the gap. At the village of Landais in southern France, every detail is designed to help Alzheimer’s sufferers live as comfortably as possible; Village stores do not have price labels on groceries, eliminating the need for residents to count costs. (Those costs are covered by government agencies.) The idea is to give residents a shopping experience without the hassle of a transaction. Similar communities for people with dementia have been set up on the outskirts of Amsterdam and on the shores of Lake Rotorua in New Zealand.

Collectively, these are vignettes of our shared future—of a world that is aging, and thus changing “in fundamental ways,” as the United Nations put it in a recent report.

By the middle of this century, the number of people aged 65 and over worldwide will total more than 1.6 billion, rising to about 760 million in 2021. In other words, there will be more than twice as many elders in one generation. From now on

Also Read :  Yoon says South Korea, U.S. discussing exercises using nuclear assets

“This is not a short-term challenge like famine or drought or war, but a long-predicted, natural change in the fabric of our societies,” said John W. Rowe, an aging expert and former president of Columbia University. of the International Association of Gerontology and Geriatrics, told The Grid.

And it is a change with far-reaching consequences.

“The basic institutions of our societies — and by that I mean work, retirement, education, health care, housing, transportation — were not designed to support the age distribution of the population of our future society,” Rowe explained. . “They need to be re-engineered to adapt.”

An aging world: where the “greyest” are

To understand what this “society of the future” might look like, Grid spoke to demographers and health experts to see how demographics are changing in different parts of the world. While aging is a collective challenge, a survey of interviews and data shows that the problems of aging, and the ways societies deal with it, vary widely.

In 1980, Europe dominated the United Nations’ list of top 10 “grey” places; Sweden tops the list, with 16 percent of its population aged 65 or over. Germany, Austria, UK and Norway were behind.

Also Read :  At least 44 killed in Nepal's worst air crash in nearly five years

Last year, Japan led the world with a much higher percentage: nearly a third of its citizens are 65 or older. By 2050, Hong Kong is expected to top the chart, with more than 40 percent of its people in that age bracket. Meanwhile, the percentage of elderly residents will increase dramatically. In the 1980s, the elderly made up a quarter of the population in those top ten “grey” countries; In half a century, the comparable figure will be one-third.

“I think the world is just catching up (as demographics are changing), and it’s becoming a global concern because we seem to be at a tipping point,” said Joshua W. Walker, head of Japan in New York. ” Joshua W. Walker, head of the New York-based Japan Society, told The Grid.

That tipping point has the potential to fundamentally remake our world. Take the question of pensions. As things stand, public spending on pensions in advanced and emerging economies is forecast to reach an average of 9.6 percent of gross economic output by 2050, up from about 7 percent in 1970 and 8 percent in 2010. This is an increase of hundreds. Billions of dollars, and it will have a profound impact on government spending on everything – from infrastructure to education to healthcare and more.

Also Read :  Harry Kane is quiet captain of England's loud World Cup squad

The good news, several experts told The Grid, is that it is possible to tackle these and other challenges. There is a mountain of studies, reports and proposals to deal with global demographic shifts. “After all, we’ve known about these changes for decades,” Rowe explained.

The bad news: The world hasn’t quite paid attention. In many ways, experts say, comparisons should be made to global warming — that other major human challenge, long talked about, long ignored and still requiring concerted action to address the problem. lack of

“There are parallels with climate change,” Paul Irving, a senior fellow at the Milken Institute, told The Grid. Irving was previously the founding chairman of the institute’s Center for the Future of Aging.

“We tend to deal with the immediate needs in front of us, and often we look in the rearview mirror instead of what’s ahead. And the demographic shift has been a long time coming, we knew it would come, and we’re in the middle of it now. “


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Related Articles

Back to top button