The World Economic Forum has published an interesting book, “Global Population Ageing: Peril or Promise?”, that asks the insightful question, why is our growing aging population — which is just about the most predictable and foreseeable long-term trend on the globe — portrayed as such a threat to global prosperity?
That’s a damn good question. Sure, our society will be transformed by a significantly larger population of older adults. There will be challenges — pension and retirement systems worldwide are inadequate and health care systems will be strained. But guess what? This is not a shock. Aging is gradual and pretty darn predictable. In fact, we’ve had decades and decades to prepare.
So, what have we done? Are we prepared to meet these challenges? More important, are we prepared to realize the potential benefits of the aging trend, such as utilizing “the immense social capital of older people”, as the founder of the World Economic Forum Klaus Schwab puts it?
Not. Even. Close.
I haven’t read the whole book yet but I immediately jumped to Chapter 4: “The Media’s Portrayal of Ageing”, as an area of particular interest to this blog. And I have to say I’m gratified to find the research of authors Colin Milner, Jenifer Milner and Kay Van Norman validate much of what Dr. Bill Thomas and our bloggers have to say about ageism in the media and how detrimental it is to the way elders are treated in our society:
Increased life expectancy is one of the most significant success stories
of our times with global population ageing presenting both challenges
and opportunities for society. Has the media’s negative portrayal of
ageing contributed to a slow and inadequate response to the
challenges, as well as a lack of understanding of the opportunities?
Based on all the evidence cited above, this article concludes that it has.
Overall this looks like an excellent pro-aging resource and a must-read for organizations, advocates, policymakers and leaders who will be tasked with responding to population aging. Click the link to download a free copy of “Global Population Ageing: Peril or Promise?”