Oldest Challenge

There was a really interesting article in The Guardian today on how the number of people in the world aged over 65 is going to pass the number of children under 5 for the first time.  This is a topic that I really interests me, not just because of the implications for governments in how they respond this (higher taxes to pay for more services to the aging population), but also to society and how many attitudes will be challenged which our societies will find difficult.

The challenges Japan is facing with one of the oldest populations in the world demonstrates what a challenge this is with the older generation leading a pensioner crime wave (see another Guardian article) as they struggle to live on their savings and the state pension.  It’s an interesting (and tragic) but unforeseen consequence of an ageing population.  Couple this with the mental health issues (depression, suicide, etc)and public health issues (delivering primary care in the home, eating healthy food after a lifetime of catering for a family, etc) of living alone after one partner leaves or dies and it makes for a very difficult problem given the sheer number of older people.  Have a look at Nutrition Australia for what they are doing in this space for more (A plug for you Luci!).

The other side of the debate is the share of resources between the generations with more of the tax take being spent on aged services versus services for the younger working population.  There is a clear need for compromise, but the baby boomer generation is yet to show much appetite for sacrificing their comforts and have been collectively the most selfish generation to date (controversial but I do think this!). Have a look I found the graphic below a little while ago on the Australian Bureau of Statistics site which is a nice illustration of generations and the names they have been given.  It’s hard to see Gen Y and iGeneration being keen to make sacrifices either given they’ve only known good times, plus Gen X’s lingering resentment of the baby boomers and the endless use of their demographic muscle to hog the public debate on issues of the time.

blah generation timeline 1 generation timeline 2

So where to from here for this issue?  I’d be very interested in what others think…