Global Graying: The Age Structure Crisis

by Jennifer Thompson on February 21, 2014

“Global Graying: The Age Structure Crisis”

The world is experiencing a change that is continuing on its way to create massive problems for humans surviving in the future.  “Global graying” is a process occurring in most countries around the world where there is a disproportionate and increasing number of elderly citizens compared to those of younger generations.  Countries all over the world, particularly those still developing, are already facing pressure to meet the needs of their continually growing populations.  Those categorized as part of the younger generations are primarily the ones who educate, provide medical needs, protect and secure the country to maintain peace, and help mentor those taking after them.   Young people act as a backbone to most countries and play a vital role in keeping the society together.  According to Nadakavukaren, “The percentage of people born who live beyond age 60 has already increased from 2-3% to 15%, and by 2030 it is estimated that one quarter of the planet’s population will be in the ‘senior’ category.”  The “baby boom” generation, which sprung years ago, generated such a large number of people, and afterwards led to a decline in birth rates.  Now the boomers are becoming dependent on the younger and fewer generations; this is becoming very problematic.   With not as many young people to provide for the escalating number of elderly people, who knows what the future will hold.

 

Global graying significantly impacts the environment and is already hinting at the kind of world that future populations will be living in.  Levels of pollution, congestion, and consumption have all risen due to the number of people on earth, particularly in urbanized areas.   More people means more jobs and transportation, which naturally creates an increase in carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases toxic to the atmosphere.  As the number of humans continues to increase and grows from 7 billion of us today to 9 billion of us in the near future, the need for food, water and land is destined to increase as well.  According to scientist Stephen Emmott, “By 2050, 1 billion hectares of land is likely to be cleared to meet rising food demands from a growing population. This is an area greater than the US.  And accompanying this will be three gigatons per year extra CO2 emissions.”  Forests and other natural habitats will soon be destroyed to provide for future generations.  Population aging is taking place simultaneously with global aging, and more people need to be aware of that.

An even bigger concern to humans today involves the effects that global graying has on retirement funds.  It is expected that the old depend on the young for the right health care in order to help them live a longer life.  They rely on new technology and other ideas from the youth.  Social security schemes borrow from today’s workers to support today’s retirees.  Nadakavukaren states that, “right now there are three working taxpayers per retired person and by 2030 there could only be 1.5 workers per retired person (or 1 worker per retiree depending on the growth of the country).”  This means that the hard-working and employed generations will have more money taken away from them to keep supporting the elderly, which also will make it more difficult for them to support themselves.  Global graying does constitute fewer children to care for and pay for; however, it also means that that money saved is not guaranteed to stick with them.   This is a major conflict for those economically productive, yet not as much for those who are dependent.  Naturally, elderly people consume more health care services than younger people.  The price of health-care costs has already soared and only will continue to rise, pressing that burden even more so on the working class.  As the world is growing older and there is a decline in birth rates, we are running into issues that we do not necessarily have control over.   The global aging crisis is inevitable for future decades and will continue to impact our society, economy, and environment.

 

References

Nadakavukaren, Anne. Our Global Environment: A Health Perspective. Long Grove (Ill.): Waveland, 2011. Print

Emmott, Stephen. “Humans: The Real Threat to Life on Earth.” The Observer. Guardian News and Media, 30 June 2013. Web. 18 Feb. 2014.

http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2013/jun/30/stephen-emmott-ten-billion

 


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Sauvegarde Externe professionnelle April 28, 2014 at 12:52 pm

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