PLANET OF THE AGED
Earth now home to 2 billion people age 60 and over.
2062 STATE OF THE ENVIRONMENT
Coastal cities go under. Renewable energy rules the day. Cows use up precious water and drive the ongoing greenhouse effect.
NEW WORLD DYNAMOS
Incomes skyrocket in developing nations.
SURGE OF THE CITIES
6 billion people live in cities—the population of the entire world at the turn of the century.
Ice caps melt. Industry booms at top of the world.
PLANET OF THE AGED “Every man desires to live long, but no man would be old.” —Jonathan Swift
Gray is the new color of the world population. Today the globe is home to 2 billion people over the age of 60,
a group growing five times as quickly as the population as a whole. Five nations contain more than 50 million of
these elders: China (440 million), India (316 million), the United States (111 million), Indonesia (72 million),
and Brazil (64 million). The aging demographic combined with declining fertility rates—especially in industrial
countries—has sent medical costs skyrocketing while economies sputter. The race to attract young immigrant
workers, including caregivers for the elderly, is on.
2012: 82,302,000||2062: 72,371,000|
Life Expectancy||2012: 80.6||2062: 86.5|
|Elderly (Over Age 65) as Percent
of Population||2012: 20.5||2062: 30.1|
Population||2012: 60,551,000||2062: 57,399,000|
|Life Expectancy||2012: 82||2062: 87.2|
|Elderly as Percent
of Population||2012: 20.4||2062: 31.4|
Population||2012: 310,384,000||2062: 421,050,000|
|Life Expectancy||2012: 78.8||2062: 84.6|
|Elderly as Percent
2012: 13||2062: 21.9|
2012: 126,536,000||2062: 103,241,000|
2012: 83.7||2062: 88.9|
Elderly as Percent
2012: 23||2062: 35|
Land of the aging son
Japan, an economic powerhouse late in the last century, is a shadow of its former self. Because of a low birthrate and increased longevity, its population in the past 50 years has shriveled 18 percent. The workforce has dwindled as much as 36 percent, stalling economic growth. Japan’s GDP of $7.1 trillion is a pittance compared with China’s $89 trillion (although China now faces its own aging crisis).
Japan’s demographic shift has triggered dramatic changes. The country’s erstwhile tradition of cradle-to-grave employment, with people working for one company for an entire career, has been phased out in favor of a Western-style meritocracy where jobs, promotions, and wages are linked to performance. High-paid senior executives have been encouraged to retire earlier or work part-time, creating new jobs at better pay for younger generations. Increased tax revenues ease social service burdens, enabling humane eldercare.
With higher wages and greater opportunity, Japanese women have ever more power in the workplace. Flextime and extended maternity leave, European-style child care, and use of fertility aids have helped nudge the birthrate back up. The population, once in free fall, is finally just short of replacing itself.
In Tokyo, still one of the world’s largest cities with nearly 39 million people, chains of senior living facilities cater to a huge but active and healthy elderly population. Robots patrol hallways and do menial tasks such as housekeeping, distributing medications, helping residents dress, and ferrying them to doctors’ appointments. They even perform minor surgeries. Automated vehicles have restored some of the elderly’s lost mobility. Anti-Alzheimer’s drugs have drastically improved the quality of life for many.
Spurred by a series of nuclear-power mishaps, starting with 2011’s disaster at Fukushima, large-scale solar and wind plants now dot the country.
Top 5 Leap in Median Age from 2012 to 2062
1. Iran: 27 to 50 (23 years)
2. Vietnam: 28 to 48 (20 years)
3. Mexico: 27 to 45 (18 years)
4. India: 25 to 40 (15 years)
5. Republic of Korea: 38 to 51 (14 years)
What They Were Saying 50 Years Ago…
is no longer the
Japanese are unwilling to take care of their
family, and when they get married,
they choose someone who won’t come
with that kind
of baggage—which adds to
Fertility Rate is the average number of children born to a woman in a given country.
Fertility rate is like Goldilocks’s porridge: It has to be just right (approximately 2.1) to generate a
robust and self-sustaining population. Too high and you get a youth bulge that can’t be absorbed
into the economy. Too low and the shrinking workforce slows economic growth to a crawl.
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