A Tosa resident since 1991, Christine walks the dog, cooks but avoids housework, writes and reads, and enjoys the company of friends and strangers. Her job takes her around the state, learning about people's health. A Quaker (no, they don't wear blue hats or sell oatmeal or motor oil), she has been known to stand on both sides of the political and philosophic fence at the same time, which is very uncomfortable when you think about it. She writes about pretty much whatever stops in to visit her busy mind at the moment. One reader described her as "incredibly opinionated but not judgmental." That sounds like a good thing to strive for!
Seniors have a reputation for being, well, peaceful. Maybe not Uncle Buster, but most. That's one reason aging communities like Wauwatosa are eager to develop housing for seniors—especially the kind of seniors who not only don’t have axes to grind but have lots of home equity to reinvest.
But there's a much bigger political and social context behind the value of aging societies, an upside that most of us haven’t much thought about. According to information from The Gerontological Society of America published January 25 in ScienceDaily, as a society ages, it loses the taste--and the opportunity--for political violence. (World's Aging Population to Defuse War on Terrorism)
If you look at the Mideast, Iraq, Pakistan, and Saudi Arabia, you’ll see what happens with “youth bulges” in which there are proportionately more young people than usual. The youth bulge creates lots of people with “strong grievances against current political conditions and little stake in society.”
I’m guessing that inner cities with high proportions of young and impoverished no-stakes people suffer from the same kind of increases in violence. Milwaukee is a case in point.
Population age cycles. In about 20 years, an aging, invested population creates political stability and economic development. Think about the US during—and 20 years after—the Vietnam war. You get the picture.
When the population continues to age and stops working, the period of economic development can slow or stop. Then a developed country will likely have to choose between accepting a high level of poverty among the old—or diverting money from military spending to avoid that poverty.
I will leave you to draw your own inferences. But I for one prefer the second option.
Author Mark Haas of Duquesne University says that the aging trend is starting to affect all the most powerful nations. By 2050, Russia’s working age population will shrink by 34%, and China’s median age will be almost 45. Will they choose impoverished old people or reduced military spending?
Apparently, the US will be less affected than China, Russia, Britain, France, Germany, and Japan. “In 2050, this country’s median age will be the lowest of any of the great powers,” ScienceDaily reports. At the same time, “the working age population in the US is expected to increase by 31%.”
While the article doesn’t mention it, I bet that the “youthing” of the US depends partly on immigration.
Makes you look at politics, the future, the economy, and aging a little differently.
A slightly different version of this blog appears at Aging Maven.