Coping with graying

It’s forecasted that by the year 2050, people over age 60 in the world will outnumber children under the age of 14. Some predict the planet’s population will actually begin to drop. Should we be worried? N.C. State University economist Mike Walden answers.

“And really … this is a turnaround. I think probably I know when I was in school … there were concerns about the population explosion – how are we going to use all of our resources as our world population and our country’s population continues to go up?

“And what we’ve seen …. really around the world is a dramatic drop in fertility rates. We’re just not producing the same number of children that we used to. And in some countries – Italy and Japan come to mind – those countries are already de-populated. And if we do continue this trend around the world, it is going to have a lot of pluses but also some minuses.

“On the plus side, it probably means we’re going to use less natural resources, which means probably less pollution, less crowding. There’s going to be pressures to make workers more productive. So we’re going to have more labor-saving devices.

“But on the other hand, we’re going to spend more on things like medical care. We’re not going to have, for example, young workers who contribute to Medicare and Social Security in our country to support those of us who are retired. They’re concerned that older people will be selling off their stocks, causing the stock market to go down.

“So, this is really a big deal. And it really bears watching because this could be a game-changer in terms of how our population moves in the coming decades.”


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