Population aging is becoming a more prominent global demographic trend affecting every person and countries. Dorfman, Richard and David (2008) observe globally, “the population of older persons is on the increase at a rate of 2.6 percent per year, significantly faster than the population as a whole, which is increasing at 1.2 percent per year.” The older population is expected to continue growing more rapidly than the population in other age groups.
Statistically, in developed countries more than a fifth of their population is aged 60 years and above and it is estimated that by the year 2050 approximately a third of the populace in the developed countries would be aged over 60 years.
A steady increase of the older age bracket is foreseen in many industrialized developed countries such as the United States. This is profound in the United States due to the decline in fertility levels begins relatively early and as a consequence, population increase is witnessed among the elderly (Federal Interagency Forum on Aging Related Statistics 2006).
These population structures are constantly changing due to the frequency of migration and immigration witnessed among the populace. This constant change is as a result of changes in mortality or fertility factors.
The older population will continue to grow overwhelmingly if the number of the current birth rate that is associated with the preceding one reduces due to fertility drop hence dropping the number of the youngest age sets. Such a huge population of older persons and rapid pervasion of aging will undoubtedly have alarming challenges to the social and economic development of the country.
The impact of these demographic changes brought about by the increase of elderly people, will affect the socio-economic factors within a country, including taxing policies and the distribution of economic resources, “labor markets, economic development, investment and consumption rates, pensions, savings, property and care from one age group to another and it could also have dire consequences on the provision of healthcare services” (Dorfman, Richard & David 2008).
Some of the other vital issues that the population aging will keep on affecting include housing, immigration, living arrangements and the relations composition.
The implication of population ageing
According to Kinsella, Kevin and Wan (2009), “the shift in age structure in relation to population aging has a profound impact on a range of economic, political and social process for example; the intergenerational of social support which is vital for the well being of both the young and the old.” This can be helpful to societies where provision of care within the family becomes extremely difficult as family size decreases and women, who are usually the main caregivers, are engaged in employment outside the home.
Population aging presents unique challenges that also force public institutions to operate within a dynamic culture that allows them to smoothly adapt to changes that occur in the population structures as a result of aging. In developed countries, the rapid increase in the number of senior citizens has forced the government and society to create more social systems than seen before to be able to cater and provide support able to cope with this rapid increase of senior citizens.
For example, the United States social security system has been forced to make radical modifications to its existing social security system so as to avert crisis also be ready for any potential threats to the public security (Dorfman, Richard & David 2008).
The global economic and monetary crisis that began in 2007 and stretched out during 2008 and 2009 resulted in reductions in value of pension funds in many countries worldwide. Consequently, the rate of retirement savings by individuals has substantially reduced. This substantial reduction is attributable to an increase in the old population, and the need for government to provide medical care for the old. As a result, the circumstances are likely to push government into demanding more from the working-age population.
This can be either in the form of levying of higher taxes or other contributions, in an attempt to maintain a stable flow of benefits to the older population through the social security system put in place. For instance, population aging has led to tax increases on the young population and a decrease of the potential support ratio.
This means that a rise in old-age dependency ratio will be inevitable, for this reason, indications that societies that have a constantly increasing number of beneficiaries of health and pension systems for persons above 65 years will be massive borrowers of donor funds from the World Bank.
Later retirement ages can also be caused by a decrease in the younger population as a result, making the old to retire at very late stages as the effective age of retirement varies significantly amongst different populations (Kinsella, Kevin & Wan 2009).
Countries that have high per capita incomes, older persons are required to retire early and therefore this leaves a vacuum where lower labor force participation rates at older ages are observed. These may become essential so as to uphold the Pay-As-You-Go public retirement plans for instance “Medicare” and “Social Security.”
Lower cost-of-living adjustments or housing
Population aging influences family composition and living arrangements for older persons, including familial co-residence and independent living, which has had significant impact on family support in developed countries, for example the United States. Also there has been an increase in numbers of elderly people living in old couple homes (Dorfman, Richard & David 2008).
This can greatly be attributed to the rapid economic growth, better living conditions, more migration of younger people to rural areas and the increasing desire of children and old parents to have a more independent life.
The benefit of changing living arrangements for the aged can take pleasure in a more self-sufficient life; however the demerits of this is that the elderly age will require more daily care and the lack of community services hindering them from getting the care they need. As a result, government policies that deal with this will be required to take into consideration the varying needs of the elderly in the society and to extend community services and long term care system in advance to them.
Population aging will have an impact in the increase of medical and health care expenditures. As life expectancy continues to rise, the number of people in the older age bracket will increase as well, resulting in a greater strain on the United States’ health care system.
Therefore, the implications of the changing demographics have changed healthcare systems along with the increased number of individuals aged above 65 years, which will potentially lead to increased healthcare costs (Kinsella, Kevin & Wan 2009). As the population ages the pervasiveness of health issues associated with old age, such as physical disabilities, disease vulnerability and chronic ailments are projected to raise significantly (Turnbull, 2009).
Health care is the main factor that is affected by the changing age formation of the people in favor of older age groups. As such, the chronic conditions that are associated with aging pose the potential for increased healthcare costs as longevity increases due to the rising medical costs and increase in demands for health services since the older people are more vulnerable to various diseases (Turnbull, 2009).
The government at national level should take crucial measures to make a significant financial commitment for the provision of medical care to the older population, in order to offset the economic status and needs of the elderly and their families
However, when a proportion of older persons in the total population increases rapidly over a short period the socio-economic conditions may be improved if the rate of the older population increases while the younger population will be forced to shoulder the extra cost. Also the government will need to support the implementation of the changes on housing policy and the communities working together to meet the needs of older citizens.
The frail elderly may need to have their homes modified to make them safer. To ensure the continued health and nutritional needs of our elderly are taken care of, new welfare program may need to be designed as the demographic aging and the changing needs of aging populations that have posed various challenges to the tight budgets and limited human resources (William 2007).
The economic conditions of a country would have the greatest influence on the expenditures on social services; it could affect the demand of social services by the demographic factors of the country (Turnbull 2009).
All public social security schemes in the developed countries have the Pay-As-You-Go schemes, which are publicly managed and financed through government taxes contributed by the employees and the employers. In addition, all cases cannot afford a sustainable living for the recipients as many countries have made efforts in establishing non-contributory pension schemes, which could provide a basic pension to those who are not within the outreach of formal schemes.
A poor economic climate in a country would lead to a rise in the level of unemployment which would lead to a rise in the number of persons on income assistance. Also as the population increases there would be an increase in the demand for social services irrespective of economic conditions. As a result the younger population will be forced to pay high charges on the tax imposed to them so that the government will cover the high cost of social services.
The aging of the population is certainly a global phenomenon that requires a worldwide synchronization of national and local actions where the population aging is already well underway and the majority of developed countries have now reached a unique stage where the largest percentage of population belongs to the economically active age-groups of between 15 and 64 years of age.
Some of the viable ways that would reduce negative consequences of population aging are increasing collaboration between the governments and thus plummeting socioeconomic and political tribulations that come about as a result of population aging.
This may be easily achieved through promoting active and healthy lifestyles, family and immigration policies, pushing up the retirement age or at least making sure that people retire at an older age, and restructuring of social security systems. The objective of this is to attain economic growth in the country in a way that senior citizens can be economically empowered even in their old age to lead decent lives.
In order to control the increase in population growth the government should try to get money in form of savings or pension scheme from the older population while they are still working by having a future plan to ensure that the government would not strain in the provision of resources in the future and the young population will not be taxed heavily.
An analysis of the health conditions as well as the healthcare situation has confirmed that in matters concerning healthcare, the country will need to follow the global standards that are concerned with lifestyle-related diseases.
Consequently, the health condition of aging individuals will gradually improve since the younger generation are less vulnerable to diseases given the changing lifestyles and adopting a healthier lifestyle. Older people can as well lead good, proactive, healthy comfortable lifestyles anticipating an advanced age only if they consult with medical experts and understand how they can age gracefully by even using anti-aging techniques that are medically proven.
The change in age makeup with population aging has a great impact to the country in terms of financial, political and community process. For example, the intergenerational social support that is crucial for the well being of both the young and the old. This can be helpful to societies where provision of care within the family becomes extremely difficult as family size decreases and women, who are usually the main caregivers, are engaged in employment outside the home location.
Due time constraints that are associated with planning to cater for aging, becomes the responsibility of the government to quickly set up mechanisms within developing countries to set up mechanisms that will help these countries cope with the numerous challenges associated with having a large aging population.
In a country with a population consisting mainly of individuals who are in the elderly age bracket, more social services would need to be put in place to cater for the needs of the elderly.
The increasing number of the elderly in the countryside has also led to the increasing migration of the younger population to urban areas and therefore the government should put into consideration the younger population during policy making, thus be more supportive of rural community services delivery in instances such as provision of medical care services.
In addition, there will be a steady increase of the older age group in many industrialized countries especially in developed countries like the United States where their fertility rate begins declining relatively early resulting in a population increase of the elderly people.
These population structures change because people either die or migrate to other regions. The older population will continue growing if the current population consisting of younger people reduces due to infertility that reduces the number of births and future younger generations.
In addition, the demographic changes will influence several socio-economic factors, such as taxing policies, social patterns, labor market, economic development, investments and consumption, pension schemes and distribution of economic resources. Other factors that the aging population will continue to affect are housing and migration, living arrangements and the family composition.
Dorfman, M. Richard, H. & David, A. R. (2008). The Financial Crisis and Mandatory Pension Systems in Developing Countries. Pension Reform Primer Note, The World Bank, Washington, D.C.
Federal Interagency Forum on Aging Related Statistics (2006). Older Americans 2006: Key Indicators of Well-Being. Washington, D.C: Federal Interagency Forum on Aging Related Statistics.
Kinsella, A. Kevin, J & Wan, H. (2008). An Aging World: 2008, U.S. Census Bureau, International Population Reports, P95/09-1. Washington: D.C: U.S. Government Printing Office.
Turnbull, G. K., (2009). Urban Growth Controls: Transitional Dynamics of Development Fees and Growth Boundaries. Journal of Urban Economics, 45-69.
William B., (2007). Rural Medicare Beneficiaries’ Use of Rural and Urban Hospitals. The Journal of Rural Health 1, 1-102.