There are a number of effects an ageing population will have on society, not neccessarily positive or negative, but challenges that society will need to undertake. Changes of this scale always brings a bit of aprehension and uncertaintly with them.
1. There is the dependency ratio – this is the number of employed people per elderly people. In the past this has been around 8:1, meaning that of every 8 working people paying taxes, some proportion is used to support 1 elderly person on state benefits. With an ageing population, this ratio is heading towards 3:1 – the effects will be less tax money for other issues, or higher taxes for the workers.
2. Family structures will be changing. In addition to more generations being alive at the same time, there is a trend for parents to have fewer children than, say, 30 years ago. Therefore, the typical pyramid family shape is morphing into a longer, taller “beanpole” family shape. This is neither good nor bad, just different. It does have some effects regarding inheritance – for example, many people today do not receive an inheritance until they are in their 60s, when previously, due to lower lengevity, they received inheritances in their 20s or 30s.
3. Attitudes to later life are changing also. Because people are living longer, and also being healthy longer, people in their 50s, 60s and 70s are remaining active and engaged in society. For many, it is becoming a time of reinvention, whereas previously it was often seen as a time of inactivity and rest.
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