Generation30 The Present and Future of Young People in the Long-life Society

3. The web problematique: A holistic approach to deal with tomorrow’s issues

tt30, the young think-tank of the Club of Rome4 developed the web of the problematique in order to analyse the manifold interdependencies between humanity’s various future challenges. Based on the Club of Rome’s idea of the World Problematique, the web problematique is a model designed to investigate the driving forces for future problems and which issues are mainly driven by others. Behind the graphical surface of the web problematique there is a complex set of mathematic algorithms that link all issues in cause-effect relations.

Figure 1: Chart of the web problematique
Note: The actual web of the problematique contains far more issues than this simplified, two-dimensional chart. The concept of the web problematique is continuously being developed by an international, multidisciplinary project team.

From our point of view, the phenomenon of ageing societies is the result of a number of achievements that positively influence several other factors in the web problematique:

Figure 2: The long-Life phenomenon: drivers and driving forces as derived from the web problematique

However, as the relations between drivers and driving forces are complex and hard to foresee, it is interesting to approach the issue of long-life societies with some very basic scenario building based on a generation30 perspective. It is important to realise that all issues that are driven by the long-life phenomenon need to find an adequate environment (scenario II). Otherwise, the positive driving forces will not lead to substantial improvements in the living conditions of modern societies (scenario I).

4. Scenario I: Leave everything as it is

4.1 An economy-based approach: Losing competitiveness

The market forces of a globalised economy are likely to keep their powerful effect on the world’s labour markets. Global competition will rise further; the ‘export’ of jobs across the globe is likely to increase even more. In the world of global business, there will be a strong demand for younger, highly educated people5. Older employees who are considered to be more costly and less productive will be laid off or encouraged to take early retirement. A typical CV produced in this environment will contain a long period of primary, secondary and tertiary education and a short, intensive working life, which will not leave much space for continuing education or self-fulfilment apart from work. This will be followed by a long period of retirement, becoming even longer due to rising life expectancy.
Young people will have to invest even more time and money in their education (there is already a shift from primary to secondary school education and from ‘simple’ university degrees to Masters and PhDs). On the other end of the life cycle, people taking early retirement at the age of 55 might easily have some 30 years in front of them, most of that time in very good health conditions because of the advances in health care.
Accordingly, huge amounts of human capital will be left without a use. Countries with a higher number of young people will probably win the global race for jobs while the world’s regions with ageing societies will lose competitiveness6. Ageing countries will be left with a huge part of their population living inactively in very modest financial conditions that will not leave much space for self-fulfilment. In the long run, these societies will gradually die out in terms of intellectual capacity.

4.2 A Rights-based approach: Losing Senior citizenship

While social engagement of the youths will continue to be the concern of many public institutions, focus on the elderly will still be missing in social programs. Underlying this fact remains the common understanding that youths must find a way to get involved in society while senior citizens should naturally retire from it. As a consequence, the social perception that the end of a professional career is also the end of active citizenship will persist.

4 tt30, founded in 2001, is composed of 30 young professionals around the age of 30 (hence tt30). For more information please visit
5 “The new demographics — How to live with an ageing population”, The Economist, November 1st, 2001.
6 See “The new demographics — How to live with an ageing population”, The Economist, November 1st, 2001, for a more detailed forecast on the impact of ageing on the world’s markets.

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