23 June 2017

Push back the border?

Humanity is getting old, but old age is moving away

Julia Bondar, Copper News

A study has been published according to which the criteria of old age in our time should be changed. According to the authors, despite the steady aging of the world's population, the border of old age is moving to an older age, which radically changes demographic forecasts.

The population of our Earth is steadily aging, because life expectancy is increasing, and the birth rate is decreasing. This is a rather serious problem on a global scale, since the consequence of demographic aging of the population is an increase in the economic burden on every working inhabitant of the Earth. According to UN forecasts, by 2050 22% of the world's population will be retired. In developed countries, there will be a pensioner for every working citizen. 

According to UN estimates, the world population aged 60 years and older numbered 600 million people in 2000, which was almost three times the number of this age group in 1950 (205 million people). In 2009, it exceeded 737 million people, and by 2050 it will amount to more than two billion people, tripling once again over a period of 50 years.

Traditional demographic forecasts classify "old age" as the age limit of 65 years. But as life expectancy increases, people stay healthy, active and productive for much longer. In the last decade, scientists from the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis have published a large number of studies showing that the very boundary of "old age" should gradually move to an older age as life expectancy changes. Therefore, it is necessary to introduce new criteria for aging, which are based on the characteristics of the population in each particular country.

In the study The International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (The International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis, Austria, Laxenburg), published in the scientific journal PLOS ONE, these new criteria are combined with probabilistic forecasts of the UN population to create a new age structure for four countries: China, Germany, Iran and the USA.

"Our demographic methods are relatively new, and together they give us a completely different and more accurate picture of what the future of aging may look like," says Warren Sanderson, a researcher at IIASA and Stony Brook University (in a press release, New measures of aging may show 70 is the new 60 – VM).

One of the criteria used in the study concerns the ratio of life expectancy to actual life expectancy, which helps to adjust the definition of old age in a new way. For China, Germany and the United States, the study showed that population aging will peak by 2040, and will begin to decline long before the end of the century. Iran, which has had an extremely rapid decline in the birth rate in the last 20 years, has an unstable age distribution, and the results for it have been extremely uncertain. "We chose these four countries for analysis because they have very different population structures and forecasts, and therefore they allow us to test this methodology for a number of possible scenarios," the authors of the new study said.

In demography today, a provision has been developed on the optimal structure of the population, ensuring stable reproduction and a sufficient proportion of the able-bodied population:

  • young disabled population – at least 20%;
  • adult able–bodied - 65%;
  • elderly disabled – no more than 15%.

The demographic burden of the able-bodied population is considered optimal if the share of the able-bodied population is approximately twice as large as the share of the disabled (that is, for every 1,000 people of the able-bodied population, there should be approximately 500 disabled children and the elderly).

Today, in developed countries, including Russia, the proportion of the elderly population is just about 15%. The oldest country is Sweden (17.5%). In developing countries, the proportion of the elderly population is much lower.

The picture changes with the use of new criteria for the approach to old age, developed by scientists from MIPSA. If the old age limit is pushed back for at least another ten years, then the demographic picture for many countries of the world will look completely different than it has been accepted so far. The population of developed countries, in which the population is able to maintain their working capacity for longer, with this approach will dramatically "get younger". Economically, this new approach will be expressed in the fact that the young able-bodied population will need to "support" a much smaller number of old people, since they will be able to take care of themselves on their own. Thus, if the boundaries of old age are pushed back in developed countries, it will significantly "rejuvenate" the entire planet, since in developing countries the proportion of elderly people is already relatively low.

With new methods of demographic calculations, an interesting paradox turns out: due to an increase in the quality and life expectancy, the population of developed countries is getting older, in developing countries low life expectancy is compensated by a high birth rate, which means that the population of the planet is generally "getting younger". Thus, the share of the elderly disabled population in developed countries should be reduced from today's 15% to much smaller values.

Russia is closer to the developed countries. The share of the total disabled population in Russia in recent years is approximately 40%. In these conditions, the demographic burden on the able-bodied is at the economic limit. With a relatively low level of labor productivity in our country, this ratio ensures a low level of income per capita. Moreover, in the future, this ratio will worsen, the consequences of the demographic pit of the 90s will affect. This situation seems to be pushing the authorities of our country to the idea of expanding the criteria of the able-bodied population, following the example of developed countries, wandering literally in the air. The first step for this expansion will be to increase the retirement age in the country, which is an inevitable solution, and in the very near future. The only problem is that age discrimination is widespread in our country, and it is quite difficult for a person of pre-retirement (even in the modern sense) age to find a job. Problems begin much earlier: after forty-forty-five. It is difficult to understand how raising the retirement age and increasing the period when it is almost impossible to find a job can solve some economic problems.

Portal "Eternal youth" http://vechnayamolodost.ru  23.06.2017

Found a typo? Select it and press ctrl + enter Print version