Today’s “Idea of the Day” from the New York Times blog of the same name offers a rare positive viewpoint on the globe’s aging population:
The Census Bureau’s recent finding that old people will soon outnumber the young globally is being greeted with dark foreboding, heralding “a crisis on one hand and a burden on the other,” writes Zoe Williams in the Guardian. “But what if it isn’t calamitous? What if it’s a good thing?”
In fact, she writes, the aging world is “a massive human success story: life expectancy increases because of better education, greater wealth, lower infant mortality, better health care, less disease, the reduction of armed conflict, and the development of technology and its application in pursuit of good. It is, frankly, insane to look at an aging population and not rejoice.”
But, you may ask, isn’t it a problem that in 11 major nations population is declining, meaning far fewer young people to support all the oldsters? Here again, she writes, gloom obscures the positive: “It is a consensus among environmentalists that a decline in human fertility will, if not solve the planet’s problems, at least give us some breathing space in which to solve them.” And anyway, she adds, dependency ratios showing the old as a burden on the young “are all based on a traditional retirement age – which most of us know to be outdated,” arrived at when life expectancy was much lower.
So it sounds as if, as the world turns gray, people will be too busy to complain about it anymore.