Over the past few decades, the birth rate in the world has been steadily declining while life expectancy has been growing. The aging population is one of four global demographic trends, along with population growth, international migration, and urbanization, which have a long-term impact on the development of the world. In the case where such tendencies cannot be researched and taken control of, they lead to devastating consequences for the economy. For instance, the increase in the aging population can cause a reduction in the share of the working-age population, which also leads to a decrease in productivity. In addition, supporting the older generation with pensions and social security systems may become too burdensome for the government. As a result, the task of caring for them can fall entirely on the shoulders of individual households. For this reason, the importance of studying the issues of the aging population cannot be overestimated since it can help to examine its impact in different fields and provide solutions. The purpose of this paper is to investigate not only this topic but also to conduct a thorough literature search that could be used in researching this matter.
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Demographic changes have significant economic and social impacts on labor markets, goods and services, social protection and health care, and the pension system. The research conducted by Pham and Vo (2015), for instance, studies “the effect of an aging population on economic growth in 84 developing countries in the period 1971–2015” (p. 1). According to the results, in the long run, it certainly has a negative outcome; however, there could be an optimistic conclusion due to a positive connection between economic performance and the aging population. The reason for this is that older workers are often promoted into positions that require greater cognitive skills. Due to this, the earnings of people over 50 are growing faster than those of their young colleagues. In addition, the wealth of older people is increasing because they have fewer opportunities to spend money. In other words, it creates a situation where one generation is richer than the other.
Another negative consequence of this demographic trend is the decrease in the amount of working power. The consequence of the decline in the working-age population is a decrease in labor productivity and total savings, which means a slowdown in investment, demand, and economic growth. Therefore, the pension system, health care, and social protection will require additional resources. At the same time, the number of employees and the amount of taxes and insurance contributions will decrease. This will create a significant burden on the governmental budget.
The aging of the population presents healthcare systems with an unprecedented challenge. The reason for this is the fact that previous medical practices had developed in different conditions when the main efforts were aimed at protecting the younger age groups, especially children. As was stated earlier, the growth of the elderly population requires a significant increase in health care costs. This is explained by the fact that it “worsens the heterogeneous epidemiological situation with disease and disability that require the health system to be a continuous and multidisciplinary organization” (Miranda et al., 2016, p. 508). This particular research increases awareness about these issues and suggests financing support structures and inventing policies regarding public service that could help with the situation.
As the population grows older, the government must invest more in prevention, early detection, and treatment of all serious diseases such as diabetes, dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, heart disease, or cancer. Given the need to reduce costs per patient, one can conclude that the need to reduce costs will spur the development of technology. All this will require a significant restructuring of health care, which will affect the structure of training, medical specialties, medical institutions, and the organization of medical care. Moreover, there is no doubt that the government’s structures must be prepared for an increase in health care costs.
Researchers that investigate this issue also present other challenges regarding the aging population. For example, Bloom et al. see the problem in the fact that “our current institutional and social arrangements are unsuited for aging populations and shifting demographics” (p. 91). For this reason, this study can be helpful in investigating this problem since, aside from pointing out the challenges, it also provides a solution that could change current social arrangements. For instance, it is necessary to create a system that is constantly responsive to the needs of the elderly population. Moreover, it is vital to ensure constant control over the quality of assistance and services that are provided to them.
In conclusion, it would appear that the social science issue of the aging population certainly needs more attention from scholars. This problem can be explored from a variety of topics, including its impact on the economy, the healthcare system, and social arrangements. However, aside from investigating it, the next step should be providing proper solutions that could decrease the negative influence of this social phenomenon. This would be a prolonged process, and it would take decades to see the effect of the suggested policies, but social issues could only be resolved by actions.
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Bloom, D. E., Canning, D., & Lubet, A. (2015). Global population aging: Facts, challenges, solutions & perspectives. Daedalus, 144(2), 80-92.
Miranda, G. M. D., Mendes, A. D. C. G., & Silva, A. L. A. D. (2016). Population aging in Brazil: current and future social challenges and consequences. Revista Brasileira de Geriatria e Gerontologia, 19(3), 507-519.
Pham, T. N., & Vo, D. H. (2019). Aging Population and Economic Growth in Developing Countries: A Quantile Regression Approach. Emerging Markets Finance and Trade, 1-15.