The Senior Wave in Aging and How Countries are Coping

November 4, 2015 | By Lorenzo Mejia

Countries are experiencing increased life expectancy and huge increases in the senior population as the baby boomers begin to retire. In Canada, there are more seniors than children under 14. With the population getting older, it is leading to slower economic growth and creating a huge demand on social support. The gap in age will only increase in the next 40 years and Canada is the second-youngest G7 country. Economists are watching how different countries address the aging issues to see which policies work and which don’t.

 

Over a quarter of Japan’s citizens are at least 65, making it the world’s fastest growing country. There is a higher demand for adult diapers than children’s diapers. Much of this explains why the economy has been treading water for the last two decades. Japan cannot find a way to grow the economy while supporting an aging population. Japan has a mandatory retirement age of 61, but they are increasing that by four months every year until it hits 65 in 2025 to encourage people to work longer and reduce pension costs. Canada is also increasing the age from 65 to 67 by 2029.

 

Sweden and Denmark are proposing other policies to address the aging population. Their biggest focus is on healthcare and following up with seniors in the home after a visit to the hospital. The government supplies most home-care and long-term care with taxes. These two countries are the highest taxed in the European Union. Sweden’s government taxes topped the list in 2013 while Denmark did in 2014. More countries are considering raising taxes to support the services through foreign exchange or stock market transactions. If something is not done, poverty among the aging will rise.

 

Germany has an aging population that is bigger than Canada’s, but they are encouraging young immigrants to come and work in the country. Germany has skill training programs to prepare workers and as older employees transition into retirement, they work part-time to train and mentor their successors. Germany thinks it is important to train the young so that they will be prepared when baby boomers retire.

 

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