The Implications of an Aging Population
The world is experiencing a seismic demographic shift—and no country is immune to the consequences.
While increasing life expectancy and declining birth rates are considered major achievements in modern science and healthcare, they will have a significant impact on future generations.
Today’s graphic relies on OECD data to demonstrate how the old-age to working-age ratio will change by 2060, highlighting some of the world’s fastest aging countries.
The Demographic Debacle
By 2050, there will be 10 billion people on earth, compared to 7.7 billion today—and many of them will be living longer. As a result, the number of elderly people per 100 working-age people will nearly triple—from 20 in 1980, to 58 in 2060.
Populations are getting older in all OECD countries, yet there are clear differences in the pace of aging. For instance, Japan holds the title for having the oldest population, with ⅓ of its citizens already over the age of 65. By 2030, the country’s workforce is expected to fall by 8 million—leading to a major potential labor shortage.
In another example, while South Korea currently boasts a younger than average population, it will age rapidly and end up with the highest old-to-young ratio among developed countries.
A Declining Workforce
Globally, the working-age population will see a 10% decrease by 2060. It will fall the most drastically by 35% or more in Greece, Japan, Korea, Latvia, Lithuania, and Poland. On the other end of the scale, it will increase by more than 20% in Australia, Mexico, and Israel.
Israel’s notably higher increase of 67% is due to the country’s high fertility rate, which is comparable to “baby boom” numbers seen in the U.S. following the second World War.
As countries prepare for the coming decades, workforce shortages are just one of the impacts of aging populations already being felt.
Managing the Risks
There are many other social and economic risks that we can come to expect as the global population continues to age:
- The Squeezed Middle: With more people claiming pension benefits but less people paying income taxes, the shrinking workforce may be forced to pay higher taxes.
- Rising Healthcare Costs: Longer lives do not necessarily mean healthier lives, with those over 65 more likely to have at least one chronic disease and require expensive, long-term care.
- Economic Slowdown: Changing workforces may lead capital to flow away from rapidly aging countries to younger countries, shifting the global distribution of economic power.
The strain on pension systems is perhaps the most evident sign of a drastically aging population. Although the average retirement age is gradually increasing in many countries, people are saving insufficiently for their increased life span—resulting in an estimated $400 trillion deficit by 2050.
Pensions Under Pressure
A pension is promised, but not necessarily guaranteed. Any changes made to existing government programs can alter the lives of future retirees entirely—but effective pension reforms that lessen the growing deficit are required urgently.
Towards a Better System
Certain countries are making great strides towards more sustainable pension systems, and the Global Pension Index suggests initiatives that governments can take into consideration, such as:
- Continuing to increase the age of retirement
- Increasing the level of savings—both inside and outside pension funds
- Increasing the coverage of private pensions across the labor force, including self-employed and contract employees, to provide improved integration between various pillars
- Preserving retirement funds by limiting the access to benefits before the retirement age
- Increasing the trust and confidence of all stakeholders by improving transparency of pension plans
Although 59% of employees are expecting to continue earning well into their retirement years, providing people with better incentives and options to make working at an older age easier could be crucial for ensuring continued economic growth.
Live Long and Prosper
As 2020 marks the beginning of the Decade of Healthy Ageing, the world is undoubtedly entering a pivotal period.
Countries all over the world face tremendous pressure to effectively manage their aging populations, but preparing for this demographic shift early will contribute to the economic advancement of countries, and allow populations—both young and old—to live long and prosper.
Mapped: Top Trending Searches of 2021 in Every U.S. State
From presidential elections, to cryptocurrencies and billionaires, here are the trending searches in every U.S. state in 2021.
The Trending Searches in 2021
Google’s data editor Simon Rogers once said, “You’re never as honest as you are with your search engine. You get a sense of what people genuinely care about and genuinely want to know.”
This look at trending searches for every U.S. state is a window into the topics people were truly curious about in 2021. From political tensions to meme stocks, and from Elon Musk to a devastating tornado, we saw a wide range of trending searches throughout the year.
In the above animated video, Reddit user u/V1Analytics pulls together the top trending search terms from Google’s 2021 Year in Search summary (for the period before mid-November 2021) and Google’s Daily Search Trends page (from mid-November to December 20th) to illustrate the daily trends for each state.
It’s fascinating to see what Americans were looking up this year.
Trending Searches Offer a Glimpse of American Psyche
In the year when COVID-19 vaccines became widely available, many Americans turned to the world’s most popular search engine to figure out how to come back to a life of normalcy.
In 2021, the search entries spoke to people’s interest in alternative assets like cryptocurrencies and NFTs, as well as persistent economic insecurity, evidenced by questions about when they would get their stimulus checks.
Entertainers and billionaires trended throughout the year, and so did topics of significant cultural impact at those moments in time.
Here is a look at the trending searches of 2021 and when they were searched most:
|Dogecoin||January, April, May||Cryptocurrency|
|Power Outage||June, July, August||Society|
|Lil Nas X||March||Entertainment|
|Prince Philip||April||Famous Personalities|
|Jake Paul||April, August||Content Creator|
|AMC Stock||May, June, August||Entertainment|
|Hurricane Ida||August||Climate Change|
|Squid Game||October||TV Shows|
Notable Trending Searches in 2021
Here’s a look at a few of the notable searches that trended across the U.S. in 2021:
President Biden and Capitol
Unsurprisingly, the year started with news of the presidential election and the U.S. Capitol riot, as President Biden was set to take office.
In six states, however, the top trending search was still related to the Mega Millions jackpot, even as individuals stormed the Capitol Building.
One of the most sought-after games of the year, Valheim, came on the market in February, 2021. By August, it had garnered over 8 million users. The developing company’s new Hearth and Home patch has skyrocketed the game’s appeal even more.
In March, the U.S. government unveiled their plan to distribute the third stimulus check to Americans.
People started looking for more information about when they would be getting their checks and if there had been any changes in the amount they would receive.
Created in 2013 as a parody of Bitcoin, Dogecoin saw record trading levels in May 2021. This was in part due to Elon Musk supporting the cryptocurrency.
The Dogecoin market capitalization surged to a peak of $88 billion, worth more than three-quarters of the companies in the S&P 500.
After suffering significant losses due to the pandemic-related shuttering of theaters across the country, AMC Entertainment became a fan favorite of Reddit-based retail traders who drove the share price up beyond what most analysts considered reasonable.
AMC’s stock price rose by 95% in a couple of days, reaching a record high of $63 per share. This was the latest phase of the meme stock frenzy.
President Biden decided to completely withdraw U.S. troops from Afghanistan by September 11th, 2021, ending the longest war the country has ever fought.
As an immediate consequence of the withdrawal, the Taliban militia took over the country and the government. The event, which was broadcast in near real-time, caused widespread panic among the citizens as some attempted to flee the country.
What’s in Store for 2022
It’s going to be everyone’s best guess as to what the trending searches for 2022 will be. Based on the events that dominated the news throughout the year, a few predictions could be made.
Experts predict that we will be moving to an endemic stage of the pandemic, which is bound to profoundly impact how we live in 2022.
New trends, movies, TV shows, and even newer gadgets will surely catch everyone’s attention next year. It will be fascinating to see what’s on the minds of people in the coming 12 months.
Animated Chart: China’s Aging Population (1950-2100)
See why China is facing a demographic crisis in this animated chart.
China’s Aging Population Problem
The one-child policy defined China’s demographic transition for over three decades.
But to combat an aging population and declining birthrates, the government scrapped the policy for a new two-child policy in 2016. Despite this massive change, China still faces a growing demographic crisis.
The above animated population pyramid from James Eagle looks at the distribution of China’s population by age group since 1950, with projections up to the year 2100.
How the One-Child Policy Created a Gender Imbalance
Until 2016, the Chinese government strictly enforced the one-child policy since 1979 with hefty fines for any breach of rules. According to the government, the policy reduced 400 million births over the years.
However, it also led to sex-selective abortions due to a deep-rooted cultural preference for boys. As a result, China’s gender balance tilted, with a sex ratio of 111 males to 100 females in the population aging from 0 to 4 years old in 2020.
Often termed “the missing women of China”, this shortage of women is expected to worsen over time. According to the U.N.’s World Population Prospects, China is projected to have around 244 million fewer women than men in 2050.
Additionally, the country faces another impending consequence of the one-child policy—a rapidly aging population.
Why China’s Population is Aging
In 2020, China’s fertility rate—the number of children a woman is expected to have over her lifetime—stood at 1.3.
Generally, fertility rates drop as economies develop. However, China’s fertility rate is now lower than that of the U.S. (1.64 in 2020) and on par with countries like Japan and Italy, both of which are facing aging populations. Consequently, fewer newborns are entering the population, while many in the workforce approach retirement.
Most Chinese workers retire by age 60. Here’s how China’s retirement-age population is expected to shape up by the year 2100:
|Year||60+ Population||% of Total Population|
In 2021, people aged 60 and over made up nearly one-fifth of the Chinese population. As the country’s population begins declining around 2030, over 30% of all Chinese people are expected to be in this age group.
China’s aging population threatens long-term economic growth as its workforce shrinks and low fertility rates result in fewer newborns that would later enter the working-age population. Fewer working people means lower overall consumption, a higher burden on elderly care, and slowing economic growth.
So, how will China respond to the oncoming crisis?
The Three-child Policy
According to the 2020 national census, Chinese mothers gave birth to 12 million children in 2020—the lowest number of births since 1949.
In response to these results, the government passed a new law allowing each couple to have up to three children. Despite the change, the high cost of raising a child may deter couples from having a third child.
It remains to be seen how the three-child policy helps combat China’s demographic crisis and which other policies the government chooses to deploy.
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