Society benefits from the aging population
It’s common to hear dire predictions of how the aging population will cause a drag on the economy, contribute to rising health care costs and strain pension systems, among other ills. The prognosis tends to be negative.
But a new study finds that as people live longer, they contribute a number of positive impacts on society ranging from increased productivity to a healthier environment.
For the study, researchers focused Germany because it has the second oldest population in the world with a median age of 44.3 years. The findings were published in the journal, PLOS ONE.
Study leaders identified five areas where the older population has the biggest and most positive impact on society.
- Increased productivity: Even with an expected a decline in the workforce, older people’s advanced education levels will make up for the worker shortage through higher productivity.
- A better environment: Researchers found that a declining population is linked with reduced consumption of energy-intensive goods and smaller carbon footprint.
- Sharing the wealth: As life expectancy increases, people will inherit, on average, at older ages and potentially use some of the inheritance to either fund their retirement or help their children financially as they become adults.
- Health and well being: Those who live longer are usually healthier. The results predict that the average German man in 2050 will spend 80 percent of his lifetime in good health, compared to 63 percent today.
- Quality of life: The study suggests that the relationship between leisure, work, and housework will change in the future, with leisure time increasing on average.
Dr. Rajesh Iyengar, geriatric medicine physician at Advocate Trinity Hospital in Chicago, says there is a simple approach for successful aging. Exercise regularly, limiting alcohol and living a non-smoking life continue to be the most important elements for a long healthy life, he says.
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