Wednesday, 16 May 2007

What are the effects of an ageing population?

It is estimated that by the year 2050, as many as two-thirds of the world’s population of people over 60 would age in poverty. This is a result of an ageing population where there is comparatively smaller population of young and able people in the workforce.

The economy in the region would be adversely affected. Fewer young and able people would cause the shrinking of the workforce available. An example would be Japan, where birth rates are low due to their hectic lifestyles and high standards of living. In addition, ‘ethnic homogeneity” is a very sensitive issue; Japanese are usually not in favour of large-scale immigration. However, a recent UN Report recently forecast that Japan would need 17 million new immigrants to sustain the economy by 2050.

Another effect of ageing population would be that the younger generation would have to care for a greater number of elderly and have to pay higher taxes. This is due to the fact that the government of the country would have to increase the amount of tax per working adult in the future so as to raise the same amount of revenue collected. Some European countries practicing welfare systems would also have to make certain adjustments to their systems. It is inevitable that as people age, many health complications would arise. With an ageing population, it would mean that the government would require more money to subsidies a larger number of elderly. This would contribute to the fact that the younger generation would have a greater financial burden in the future.

It is thus crucial to take the necessary measures to solve the problem. Firstly, on the national level, countries could take a two-pronged approach, by providing cash incentives to the people to encourage them to have children and also to care for the elderly such as the provision of healthcare for the elderly. Secondly, the upper working classes have to take initiative to have children, and then many others would follow their footsteps and would be an effective way to increase birth rates. For example, if the boss of the multinational company takes the lead by having children and have incentives for employees willing to have children, many would be more willing to do so. However, the company would also have to consider that there have be sufficient people to run the company, so that productivity would not be compromised.

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