Seven Challenges and Six Benefits of an Aging Population in the USA
As fewer people in the USA are having children, the average age in America is rapidly shifting upwards. This is likely to have many effects on the country, including its economy, demographics, and much more. To explore these changes, this article has been created to list potential changes that the country might see in the upcoming years as a result of this older population. Ranging from some negative consequences, to new business opportunities, to a shifting landscape, this article has been created with the aim of giving you a full overview of what an aging population might do to the general makeup of the United States of America. Read on below to learn eight challenges and six benefits an aging population might have in the USA.
Increase in Dependency
As more people across the USA get older, this will have a tremendous effect on the amount of younger people, whether they be sons or daughters or even grandchildren, who will be called upon to sacrifice their own time to help them live more comfortably. This high increase of dependency, which has often been compared to something like a second job, could lead to far more people out of the workforce, including women especially, as traditional gender expectations still persist that force women to be more likely than men to look after their parents and grandparents. As a result, this higher level of dependency caused by an aging population could increase inequalities in gender as fewer women are working.
Increased Government Spending
To deal with the effects of an aging population and less people paying taxes, the government will be forced to increase spending to pay for items such as state pensions, social housing, healthcare, and more. This might lead to higher taxation, higher borrowing from other governments, and a hike in interest rates. The upside might be that these elderly people, growing up in an era with solid enough wealth growth, might have more disposable income, boosting the economy at the same time.
Higher Health Care Costs
With old age comes a whole host of health care issues — ranging from mental issues such as Alzheimer's and dementia, to arthritis, bone replacements, and end-of-life care - which will then lead to the government having to spend more money on care. As a result, there may be an exponential rise in individual health care costs as insurance companies adjust to the new reality. Expect your own health care costs to take a hit unless there is sweeping changes to the entire healthcare system in the USA as a result.
Shrinking Number of Young People
With the amount of older people rising, this means that the younger population will inevitably decrease, having an effect on the general make up of the workforce. While this is the opposite problem in emerging economies such as in Africa and the Middle East, this lack of young people has been found across countries in western Europe as well as in Japan. The issues with this include a general decline in productivity, innovation, and demand for resources. Nonetheless, with the rise of AI, it may be likely that a lot of the tasks young people will be called upon to do might be filled by a robot in the future.
Higher Population with Dementia
The likelihood of being diagnosed with dementia rises significantly the older you get. According to a study, dementia incidence doubles every five years between the ages of 65-90. This may lead to dementia becoming the number one health issue across the entire country as the quality of life increases leading to more people living well into their 80s. This means that the government will likely have to prioritize the treatment of dementia — for which there is still no known cure — as one of the biggest issues facing the country. Nonetheless, giving the rapid advancements of science, as well as the extremely rapid way in which a cure for coronavirus was found, perhaps an optimistic view of science means mankind will find a way for these types of mental health problems to be fixed.
Shortage in Labour Supply
While it is possible for people of advanced age to work in an office well into their 70s and even 80s, there is a notable downside for those industries which require young people, such as factory work or construction, in order to function. Governments will have to find ways to make up for this lack of a younger population while there still is a demand for these types of services and may either turn to something such as automation and robots to make up the difference or turn to:
With younger populations on the decline, it is likely that governments will want to make up for this problem with an increase in immigration. A historical example of this can be both Germany and the United Kingdom in the aftermath of the Second World War. While Germany imported millions of Turkish people in to help rebuild the country, the UK called upon the citizens of its vast empire to come and live in the country. This led to the seeds for both countries' multicultural makeup today. While the USA is already a very multicultural society, especially in urban centers, this may rise in the future as the country needs to import young workers in order to make up for the decrease in a young population.
Increased Demand for Assisted Living Facilities
The adaptation of the country to the new aging population will rise in interesting ways, such as the increased demand for care homes, which is likely to boom in popularity in the coming years. This may posit the care home industry, both in construction and in nursing, to rise over the new few years, bringing with it lots of new jobs. For example, in California, where the aging population is expected to double by 2030, there will be a massive need for assisted living facilities to fill that gap. Perhaps you are interested in working in this industry; then you can read this ten-step guide as to how to open an RCFE in California.
Better Quality of Life for Seniors
With seniors suddenly making up the higher proportion of the population, they will likely force the government to think more about the importance of elderly care. This means that the latter portion of our lives is likely to improve as a result due to more investment into these types of services. As a result of this better quality of life, seniors can focus on the parts of their life that really matter, deepening their family bonds, giving back to the community, and improving society as a whole.
This is perhaps the most obvious benefit of an aging population. People will simply live longer, with the average life expectancy on the globe rising by five years on average over the last twenty years. This means more time to enjoy life and to focus on what really matters. It also means that younger people will be around longer to:
Mentor the Next Generation
With people having a longer retirement after they finally finish work, this might mean that they have more time to spend with their grandchildren or other younger members of society to pay forward their experiences and provide mentorship services. This, in turn, could improve the general outlook of society through the training of new skills and the transfer of knowledge.
Higher Net Worth of Society
Older generations are more likely to save money. This means that when they reach a certain age and stop spending it, this means that there is more money to go around when the country finally needs it. While this is bad in the short term, as spending is down, it means that there is more to go around in a time of recession or austerity, and people won't be hit so hard. Additionally, as people are having fewer children, inheritances are spread out among a smaller amount of people meaning that individual net worth is likely to rise.
Overpopulation is on the Decline
One of the major fears of many a politician and social thinker is the danger of overpopulation. As the earth only has a finite amount of resources, it is likely that an overpopulated earth could cause a whole host of problems, ranging from mass starvation to increased climate change. On the other hand, a population that declines or stabilizes may be what the earth needs in order to be truly sustainable, meaning than an aging population is ultimately what is needed to keep the earth on track.
Nonetheless, this really depends on which part of the world one is talking about, as while the US population is expected to age drastically over the coming years, there will still be a significant explosion of growth in Africa and the Middle East for a few more decades at least, which will definitely have side effects for the health of the world as a whole.
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