Archive for February, 2006
China is about to undergo a stunning demographic transformation. Today, China is still a young society. In 2004, the elderly — here defined as adults aged 60 and over — make up just 11% of the population. By 2040, however, the UN projects that the share will rise to 28%, a larger elder share than it projects for the United States2 (see Fig. 1). In absolute numbers, the magnitude of China’s coming age wave is staggering. By 2040, assuming current demographic trends continue, there will be 397 million Chinese elders, which is more than the total current population of France, Germany, Italy, Japan, and the United Kingdom combined.
Ageing of industrialised countries is changing the demographic structure of modern societies, and has a significant effect on all aspects of society. The US Census Bureau (www.census.gov/), for example, predicts that by 2020 the number of people over the age 100 will increase by more than 200% from 71,000 to 241,000 in the next 15 years. The sustainable development paradigm was formalised by the Brundtland report in 1987 (Brundtland, 1987). This paradigm requires a development that ensures that future generations are left with the same or better possibilities for their own development. Read More
The design of optimal retirement systems requires a good understanding of social, economic and demographic trends that are by-products of profound technological changes with the power to completely reshape our environment, our needs, and our way of thinking. The essay summarises the theory of technological waves, and focuses on the impact of these waves on the family, demography, the social structure and our health. We emphasise the growing cost of the age-related processes that mainly affect well being during the retirement period, and the need to counterbalance them with early preventive treatment.
1. The long-life society — a young generation’s view
The phenomenon of the long-life society is not a well-kept secret anymore. In fact, it is well-researched. Scientific projections on how life expectancy will increase over the next decades1 may be the most exact and reliable in current futurology, while other forecasts are often quite wrong. Hands-on measures to adapt health care and pension systems to the long-life phenomenon are on the way to being implemented in most countries2.
The lengthening of the life cycle is a decisive social and economic event — possibly a real revolution — with an extended impact over the coming decades, particularly in view of the rebuilding of the welfare society in its many facets.
This issue of the EUROPEAN PAPERS ON THE NEW WELFARE, contributes to the exploration of various fundamental issues in the following order: