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View Full Version : Are we about to have an ageing crisis?



TimH
08-18-2009, 04:42 PM
The United States has been in the midst of a profound demographic change: the rapid aging of its population, as reflected by an increasing proportion of persons aged 65 and older, and an increasing median age in the population.

As the population ages the burden on the working age people will become greater and greater. Older people (who may not even be working anymore) need more medical care and there will be fewer people (comparatively) working to pay for it. I have a hunch that has a lot to do with the current health care crisis. More and more people will need health care and they may not have insurance. Historically retirees savings funds have been tied to the working population (for instance in the stock market) to keep its value. As a larger and larger percentage of our population reaches retirement age the smaller group of people working will have to support them all. In one way or another.

More and more drawing from the system with fewer and fewer to replenish it.

Milo Christensen
08-18-2009, 04:48 PM
Just figured this out? Like just now, today? Amazing. You must not be a "boomer". What are you, genX or even younger and more poorly educated than that?

Ante up, kiddys, the quintessential "me" generation is retiring in droves and turning 65 by the millions. And you ain't never, never, gonna touch our Social Security when we're 62 and our Medicare when we're 65. Not one politician in America, unless he/she is term limited is ever going to touch these two third rails.

TimH
08-18-2009, 04:50 PM
GFY Milo.

Milo Christensen
08-18-2009, 04:53 PM
According to some of the responses on the gun thread, I'm apparently not "equipped" adequately for any kind of fornication.

I'm sorry to have been harsh on you, Tim. I don't know why some of your threads bring out that kind of response from me.

Keith Wilson
08-18-2009, 04:56 PM
Not at all exclusive to the US - Japan has a more severe version of the same problem. Europe is in a similar situation, and even China will run into it in not all that long. It happens whenever the rate of population increase slows significantly. Since the only alternative is to have the population keep growing at historical rates, and that's obviously untenable, we'll just have to deal with it.

TimH
08-18-2009, 04:59 PM
Just stating the obvious that nobody seems to mention.
Seems like everyone is blaming the healthcare crisis on overhead and corruption/greed in the healthcare industry, but it cant help but get worse as more non-contributing to society members need more and more medical care. The fewer contributing members have to foot the bill.

I think it has a lot to do with how American companies are getting sold out for cheap Chinese goods. If you are 65 do you really care if a product lasts 10 years or 50?

And I dont believe you are equiped for any kind of fornication either. Doesnt obesity and alcoholism lead to impotence?

Milo Christensen
08-18-2009, 05:10 PM
Tim: You're on the right track. You've heard of a Ponzi scheme, right? Now ask yourself why the Democrats tried so hard for the public option of expanding Medicare to millions of younger Americans. And then, still thinking about the demographics, ask yourself why the Democrats were in such a rush to add 10's of millions to the Ponzi scheme. Didn't some guy just go to jail for life - Madoff, was it?

TimH
08-18-2009, 05:22 PM
I would think that the baby boomers are mostly republican. Isnt greed the legacy of the baby boomers? Isnt greed what led us to the state we are in now?
This has only just begun.


First Baby Boomer Files For Social Security Benefits

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Born one second after midnight in January 1946, the retired teacher leads the way for as many as 80 million individuals who will qualify for the retirement payout.
"I think I'm just lucky to be at the top of the boom. I'm just one of many many millions and am blessed to have been in this generation and really blessed and to take my Social Security now.

Keith Wilson
08-18-2009, 05:31 PM
You've heard of a Ponzi scheme, right?Utter crap, Milo; you really should know better. A Ponzi scheme requires an exponentially-increasing number of investors, and always collapses. A program like Social Security of Medicare is sustainable, with different levels of taxation relative to benefits depending on the composition of the population, It is an intergenerational transfer of money, that's exactly how it's supposed to work. One pays taxes when young with the expectation that the taxes paid by the next generations will pay for one's benefits later. There's absolutely nothing wrong with that.

Now the problems caused by demographic changes are real enough, and will require either increasing taxes or decreasing benefits, but calling it a Ponzi scheme just obscures what's really going on.

Milo Christensen
08-18-2009, 05:31 PM
Hate to disappoint you, but most of us Republican baby boomers were raging liberal Democrats when we passed Medicare in the 60's.

But party affiliation is a dog that don't hunt in this here debate. It was and is and always will be a third rail touch it and die issue until all 80 millions of us are in the ground. Just think, couple more years and she gets Medicare. Me, I have to wait 4.5 years for the Medicare. $12,000 a year, on average, in benefits, but that will have risen by 8% per year. Over my lifetime, I've paid in just a few years worth of the average benefits. Being so obese and alcoholic and all like that, man, I'ma gonna get my money's worth, and you can take that out of your bank account.

Milo Christensen
08-18-2009, 05:34 PM
Oh, Keith, you're no fun at all. What's a little hyperbolie in the bilge? Note that the misspelling is intentional.

hokiefan
08-18-2009, 05:35 PM
Personally, I'm at the tail of the baby boom, born in 1960. I'm hoping that what I get out of it is increased job security through the reduction in the supply of experienced engineers. We all have to hope for something don't we, since it looks like I'll have to work forever to get to retirement.

Cheers,

Bobby

TimH
08-18-2009, 05:38 PM
There are 20 engineers in India all lined up to take the place of each retiring boomer.

High C
08-18-2009, 05:43 PM
There are 20 engineers in India all lined up to take the place of each retiring boomer.

We're all doomed! Well...you anyway

coelacanth2
08-18-2009, 09:22 PM
I'm seeing this in my profession - 6 dental schools closed in the early and middle 80's and the rest cut class sizes. A goodly chunk of our grads are now foreign, and they GO BACK HOME to practice and teach. Add in that 50% of each class is female and most do not work full time after kids, and you have an "issue". I've been too kind to jack my rates to what the market will bear, but I figure I've got work carpentering away until I choose to retire, or croak from overwork.

Jim Bow
08-18-2009, 09:36 PM
Maybe if we invested in education instead of weaponry we could even things out a little. Hundreds of American students are studying medicine and engineering in India because they cant afford an American education without getting $100K in debt.

The Bigfella
08-18-2009, 09:40 PM
China is about to experience this issue much more so than anywhere else. Their one child policy will create a real demographic nightmare for a while.

Andrew Craig-Bennett
08-18-2009, 10:42 PM
Oh, jolly good. I love this subject.

The usually quite rational "Economist" has been urging us to breed like rabbits for years.

That is obviously the wrong answer.

The "right" answer is that as we live longer so we must work longer. "Retirement" for males used to mean an average of three years of fairly impaired life after retirement at 65; that is the actuarial basis on which the world's social security and health care programmes were based.

So, being 56 with a life expectancy of 79, I had better plan on retiring at 75 and should find myself a means of earning as I become infirm.

What is actually happening is of course more complex; the automation effects of the development of IT have stripped out the skilled working class jobs, whilst the "the best is the enemy of the good" effects of IT have skewed middle class earnings in the direction of very high rewards for a few and low rewards for the many.

The jobs that remain are those that are hard to automate and the "caring" business is going to carry on expanding.

Where do our countries actually look for the combination of youth and physical strength with self discipline and respect for others along with the willingness to undertake menial tasks at low pay that is needed to work in the care of the elderly and infirm?

Why, to immigrants, of course!

This is the unmentionable aspect of immigration - the failure of our educational systems and / or our social systems to produce the skills and discipline that native born young people require to hold down a job, and their substitution by immigrants.

An awful lot of British teenagers and twentysomethings and thirtysomethings are simply not worth employing - they don't know how to work.

I have noticed both my, and my wife's employers, in utterly different fields, preferring immigrants - they are so much more reliable.

So we have a poisonous combination of increasing numbers of frail elderly and a growing mass of semi-criminal (drug using, etc) unemployable younger people, all supported by immigration.

The chances of any elected politician going anywhere near this switchyard of third rails are remote.

Tony Blair went nowhere near it. Barack Obama has come dangerously close to it with the healthcare issue, but that's just the tip of the iceberg.

Nanoose
08-18-2009, 10:51 PM
Probably an aging crisis, yes; but probably not to an ageing crisis.

JimD
08-18-2009, 10:53 PM
There are 20 engineers in India all lined up to take the place of each retiring boomer.

Yes, but there will always be jobs the Indians don't want, such as driving taxis and working at 7-11s.

Andrew Craig-Bennett
08-18-2009, 11:30 PM
There is a shift going on; India and China are seeing their currencies rise in value and demand within their borders increase.

What does this mean?

1. Fewer "cheap imports" because these nations will export less and the added value element in the things that they do export will be more expensive.

2. Increased competition for resources - energy, food and raw materials will be much dearer.

Espescially when paid for with our own, weakening, currencies.

Worry?

Well, I would...

skuthorp
08-19-2009, 01:37 AM
China is about to experience this issue much more so than anywhere else. Their one child policy will create a real demographic nightmare for a while.

Bernard Salt, a demographer, has an interesting take on this. He thinks that China's population will crash because of the one child policy and the cultural preference for males. There is an extreme imbalance already. He also thinks that the US and some european countries will escape the problem because of illegal immigration.
He has however been criticised here for his provocative view that we should let very large numbers of immigrants into Aus. now, before China leans on us to take some of theirs. They would largely be males I reckon as too many un-partnered frustrated males will present a law and order problem to China in the future..

Andrew Craig-Bennett
08-19-2009, 02:06 AM
Don't lets get carried away with clever theories about China.

The sex imbalance is not massive; nowhere near enough to trigger a law and order problem (in a society which is in any event exceptionally law-abiding?) and the one child policy has been being relaxed quietly for quite a while - it has never applied to the minority races, in any case.

In other words, I think Mr Salt is talking through his hat.

The Bigfella
08-19-2009, 02:27 AM
I've worked with said Mr Salt - at two different companies, actually. The law and order theory isn't his, and btw, he doesn't talk through his hat. He's pretty good with his analyses.

George Roberts
08-19-2009, 02:51 AM
"The 'right' answer is that as we live longer so we must work longer."

That is at least a reasonable answer.

A better answer is to raise the retirement age so that the same percentage of people are drawing benefits.

The Bigfella
08-19-2009, 02:58 AM
Here's a Bernard Salt article about what Australia faces wrt population pressures... and a world population of 9 billion in 40 years time.

http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/business/story/0,28124,25405665-25658,00.html

PeterSibley
08-19-2009, 02:59 AM
A local cafe I deal with has been bought by a Filipino family , a delightful mob .The more the better !

Andrew Craig-Bennett
08-19-2009, 05:08 AM
The problem with Mr Salt's article is that he assumes that his greatly increased number of migrants will have been sucessfully turned into Australians in thirty years.

So they might be, but what happens when "old Australians" say they are not convinced.

Look at the "Know-nothings" and similar nativist movements in the States in the 19th century to see how already settled immigrants may react negatively to new arrivals.

And the Resource Wars have already started. Who is winning them - not the USA and Britain, with our invasions, but China, with its cheque book.

martin schulz
08-19-2009, 05:33 AM
More and more drawing from the system with fewer and fewer to replenish it.

Yes and those retired people will also get much older, drawing from the system much longer.

And then, the next issue.
Politicians, realising the voter potential in retired or shortly to be retired people, are very eager to fulfill, or at least promise every wish those people want, even if that will hurt the economy, increase inflation/state-debts or drives younger people into unemployment. And there is no way out, since every politician who dares to ignore this group won't be elected.

mizzenman
08-19-2009, 06:19 AM
Yes and those retired people will also get much older, drawing from the system much longer.

And then, the next issue.
Politicians, realising the voter potential in retired or shortly to be retired people, are very eager to fulfill, or at least promise every wish those people want, even if that will hurt the economy, increase inflation/state-debts or drives younger people into unemployment. And there is no way out, since every politician who dares to ignore this group won't be elected.

Yes but politicos do not allways keep their promises;)

Andrew Craig-Bennett
08-19-2009, 07:20 AM
Yes but politicos do not allways keep their promises;)

Yes, and even better - elderly voters may forget what the promise was, anyway...:D

PeterSibley
08-19-2009, 07:42 AM
The problem with Mr Salt's article is that he assumes that his greatly increased number of migrants will have been sucessfully turned into Australians in thirty years.

So they might be, but what happens when "old Australians" say they are not convinced.

Look at the "Know-nothings" and similar nativist movements in the States in the 19th century to see how already settled immigrants may react negatively to new arrivals.

And the Resource Wars have already started. Who is winning them - not the USA and Britain, with our invasions, but China, with its cheque book.
With due respect Andrew , Australia has been doing this for some time .Most of the 19th century , a short break between the wars then again with enthuiasm for the 60 years since .

My neighbours are Filipino ,Papuan ,English ,Irish ,Romanian and Spanish plus a few native born .

Success ? Usually ...we seem to have made a poor choice with some of the Lebanese , not quite as interested in education as some of their peers .

The Bigfella
08-19-2009, 07:43 AM
I can throw in an American neighbour...

Andrew Craig-Bennett
08-19-2009, 07:53 AM
I think you are missing my point - it's a scale effect - there's lots of evidence to suggest that if the number of immigrants to a given place is rapidly increased, ill feeling develops towards them.

PeterSibley
08-19-2009, 07:56 AM
I think you miss our point ,it hasn't rapidly increased .It is the norm in Australia and always has been .Your European is ,I understand , different .

Dan McCosh
08-19-2009, 08:49 AM
This is something of a myth. The basic retirement group is expected to rise from about 20% of the US population currently to roughly 26% in the next ten years. The fastest-growing segment of the population is currently those under 10 years old, and will be just entering the work force by then. So-called Gen X is the small one--the post-pill generation, diminished by a recession. That shrinkage distorts the picture when you look at the age mix in the US. The long-range outlook for transfer payments such as SS and medicare is pretty good based on demographics alone. (medical costs are another issue).

skuthorp
08-19-2009, 09:06 AM
A local cafe I deal with has been bought by a Filipino family , a delightful mob .The more the better !

A derelict shop in a side street nearby has been turned into a Take Away by a Cambodian family with very imperfect english. But their food is delicious and word spread and you have to ring and leave an order an hour early at least. My best friend at school was Jimmy Tan, his parents ran an 'all you can eat for......' Chinese restraunt in a poor area and fed many alchoholic war veterans free. Jim's ancestor came fro See Yup villiage during the gold rush. His grandfather served in the AIF in WW1, his dad in the WW2 airforce. Immigrtation has been a boon for Australia, we got the brave ones, the best and brightest, it made us and still is.

Andrew Craig-Bennett
08-19-2009, 09:14 AM
Quoting from Salt's article, above, my emphasis:

" There is a case to say that before the middle of the 21st century, global geo-political forces will compel the Australian nation to accommodate a much higher rate of overseas migration...",

Obviously you don't have a problem now (I'm not going to dig up Pauline Hanson) but if you go for a "much higher" rate there is loads of experience to say that at a sufficiently high rate you get a problem.

skuthorp
08-19-2009, 09:20 AM
Quoting from Salt's article, above, my emphasis:

" There is a case to say that before the middle of the 21st century, global geo-political forces will compel the Australian nation to accommodate a much higher rate of overseas migration...",

Obviously you don't have a problem now (I'm not going to dig up Pauline Hanson) but if you go for a "much higher" rate there is loads of experience to say that at a sufficiently high rate you get a problem.

Our 'problem' may be environmental not civil. We don't have the water now, desertification is advancing apace, our biggest river system, the only big one, is close to dry and the basin it served no longer produces much food. That is what will limit the population, unless the Simson or Sturts Stony deserts suit them of course.

Andrew Craig-Bennett
08-19-2009, 09:29 AM
Actually I suspect that seven million is indeed the "right" sort of number for Australia!

David W Pratt
08-19-2009, 10:58 AM
Another phenomenon largely undiscussed is improved survival in us boomers.
For example, 10 years ago a woman with recurrent, herceptin receptor positive, breast cancer would die. Now there is a drug (~$50,000/yr) that will allow her to survive. During that survival she may develop osteoporosis, need a hip replacement, etc. Thus incurring costs which I imagine were never dreamt of by the actuaries.

Andrew Craig-Bennett
08-19-2009, 11:02 AM
Very good point - at the heart of a lot of the debate on medical cover.

htom
08-19-2009, 11:17 AM
There's no "about" to it. Modern medicine has flattened the age distribution curve.

"Ponzi scheme" is perhaps appropriate because of those changes. I think (and always did think) that it was foolish to think that the population could continue to grow forever, always having forty, no twenty, no ten, no five, no three, now two people to support one on Social Security -- or any other population program based on the shapes of the curves in the 1800's.

George Roberts
08-19-2009, 11:37 AM
There's no "about" to it. Modern medicine has flattened the age distribution curve.

"Ponzi scheme" is perhaps appropriate because of those changes. I think (and always did think) that it was foolish to think that the population could continue to grow forever, always having forty, no twenty, no ten, no five, no three, now two people to support one on Social Security -- or any other population program based on the shapes of the curves in the 1800's.

Social Security is in fact a Ponzi scheme. The idea behind such a scheme is that payments to those who join first come from those who join later rather than from invested earnings.

Of course, Ponzi schemes are certainly of benefit - when properly used.

PeterSibley
08-20-2009, 05:10 AM
Actually I suspect that seven million is indeed the "right" sort of number for Australia!

I think you might be correct ,especially if we value the existence of our fauna and flora .Currently we export vast amounts of "virtual water" and this does not seem sustainable ....that lovely buzz word in it's proper usage .

But like any other population in a successful culture we are very unlikely to even consider limiting our population. Indeed it's one of those unmentionable subjects restricted to the shadowy fringes of converation .

skuthorp
08-20-2009, 05:33 AM
But like any other population in a successful culture we are very unlikely to even consider limiting our population. Indeed it's one of those unmentionable subjects restricted to the shadowy fringes of converation .

If raised it is always decried in terms of racism, no major party has even a sniff of a 'population policy'. But it is still the elephant in the room eventually.

PeterSibley
08-20-2009, 06:44 AM
So is Climate Change but the reality is being nicely greenwashed .

Andrew Craig-Bennett
08-20-2009, 06:53 AM
I agree very strongly with the above posts.

There are ways to limit population growth - the Chinese policy is one, but there are others as well - in Tudor England, when the nation was pretty much against the limit of its resources with the technology of the day, daughters stayed at home and helped with chores, espescially, given our major export - wool - spinning, hence "spinster" and the average age of women on marriage was around 27. By thus cutting out ten years or so of reproductive life, family size was regulated.

skuthorp
08-20-2009, 07:11 AM
I have a feeling that the earth will solve the problem, if there is one, in spite of any innefectual measures we may attempt. And if that happens as we surmise at present it certainly won't be pretty. What effect this would have on our varying levels of 'civilisation' is uncertain, but probably messy. If things go really bad then the most 'civilised' of us may be the least well equipped to survive.

PeterSibley
08-20-2009, 07:18 AM
I agree very strongly with the above posts.

There are ways to limit population growth - the Chinese policy is one, but there are others as well - in Tudor England, when the nation was pretty much against the limit of its resources with the technology of the day, daughters stayed at home and helped with chores, espescially, given our major export - wool - spinning, hence "spinster" and the average age of women on marriage was around 27. By thus cutting out ten years or so of reproductive life, family size was regulated.

Interesting Andrew ..was that a deliberate policy by some authouity or just happenchance ?

I've always been interested in pre European Japan .They appeared to be right at the limits of their possible population .Do you have any idea how they regulated the numbers .IIRC the 150 years before Perry were fairly peaceful .The translated 19th century Japanese novels I've read paint a very bleak picture for anyone outside the security of the clan .

Andrew Craig-Bennett
08-20-2009, 07:20 AM
That's a complex question and I am not sure it has been answered - I will ask the only Tudor historians whom I know...

PeterSibley
08-20-2009, 07:30 AM
Thanks Andrew ,my English economic history is pretty superficial .