EUROPEAN PAPERS ON THE NEW WELFARE

Technological Changes, the Reversal of Age Pyramids and the Future of Retirement Systems

6. Concluding remarks

This essay has attempted to forecast future trends and examine their implications for future retirement systems. We have tried to view the issue from quite a variety of angles and they all point in one direction: social security systems should privatise most of their activities. However, this process must leave a small nationalised part, and the governments must create a well-defined framework for the privatised part. In the countries that are currently undergoing the industrial revolution, the introduction of a mandatory privatised retirement system may be used as an engine to finance their growth. In the already post-industrial countries the change will simply ease some of the ailments of their current systems.
A second point that is of great importance is related to the growing cost of age-related health problems. This is becoming the major issue of developed economies. About one third of the post-retirement period is wasted on the average in poor health, and the costs are escalating. This calls for preventive medicine in the years prior to retirement. In other words, we must spend money now in order to prevent unbearable costs in the future. One possible way of dealing with the issue is to reconsider the criteria for how far to go in spending resources to artificially prolong lives. This is a complicated ethical issue.
The last point relates to deep philosophic ideas. As most countries will soon become industrialised, and as current technological waves are fast and frequent, the entire world will soon be moving at more or less the same pace. This calls for much more coordination among countries on the governing rules of the system. If not all players act according to the same basic set of rules, imbalances are created and these may shake the world. Indeed, the current situation, where much inequality still exists among nations, creates strong forces that threaten the world, and cultural clashes between civilisations and terrorism are creating major risks to our future.

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