The author of this chapter, Alan Greenblatt, focuses on the increasing trend of aging around the globe thus the title, The Graying Planet. In his piece of work, he highlights some of the major aspects that are associated with the demographic change in both developed and developing nations. One of the major concerns is the economic aspect of the trend as far as the needs of the elderly in society are concerned.
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In the last few decades, the composition of the world’s population has changed dramatically. Some of the nations that have experienced an increase in the proportion of the elderly include China, Japan, and the UK among others. Greenblatt gives several reasons to justify the increment, especially in the developed nations. One of the main aspects is the increase in life expectancy. This can be attributed to the technological advancements that have led to the establishment of good healthcare as well as sanitation facilities.
Additionally, most people know their nutritional requirements besides being able to access healthy food. Infant mortality rates have also declined following medical advances in most nations. With the prosperity in most of the social aspects within many nations, researchers have found out that life expectancy increases 2-3 years a decade. However, prosperity in some societies does not entirely contribute to the increase in the aging population.
As Greenblatt points out, some nations have policies that have contributed to the increase. For instance, China’s one-child policy has led to a decrease in the number of young people within the nation. The involvement of women in education and careers makes them delay in getting married while others remain unmarried. For instance, in Japan almost half of all women who have attained thirty years of age are unmarried.
Undoubtedly, the demographic change has brought about changes in the society that are outlined in the chapter. Greenbelt asserts that many nations have come up with a retirement policy to increase the legal age for retirement in an attempt to enhance the productivity of the aging population due to the increment of the competition of resources between the elderly and young generations (457). Most of the European nations and America have embraced the policy.
Greenblatt also highlights the efforts that some of the governments have made to ensure the acceptance of the policy by many employers. For instance, some governments subsidize the operations of the employers besides educating them on how to cope with the seniors who are their employees. However, the chapter does not give the take of the aged on the policy. The question of the reaction of the young generation to the changes has also been addressed.
Greenblatt asserts that in some nations, the young population is reluctant to help the aged leaving them in the care of nursing homes. For instance, in China, the phenomenon has led to increased cases of suicide among the elderly making the government consider allowing parents to sue their children if they do not maintain regular visits (470).
The chapter has adequately detailed the economic changes that the phenomenon has generated. It explains the immigration of people in most developed nations. Additionally, Greenblatt argues that due to the lack of an energetic workforce in the developed countries, there has been a decrease in innovation and entrepreneurship (471). This does not explain the ability of such nations to remain as the superpowers as far as technology and economic prowess is concerned.
In conclusion, the chapter addresses some of the economic concerns associated with the increase in the numbers of the elderly in the world. Such concerns have made governments come up with policies of addressing the issue to ensure the well-being of every citizen. Greenblatt also succeeded in highlighting the cause of the demographic change and the governments’ intervention to enhance a reduction of the gap between the elderly and the young generations.