I have an interesting piece of information that I’d like to share with you today. Did you know that we’re part of the fastest growing age demographic in the world? Now, that’s a fact. I brought the topic up with my wife Jan not too long ago after researching the statistics and we later discussed how this change made us feel.
Here’s what I dug up: A 2012 study of Eurostat, the Statistical Office of the European Union, reports that the 55-and-older population jumped from 25% in 1990 to 30% in 2010, and is projected to increase to 37% by 2030. We have an ageing workforce – with 55-to-69-year-old participants increasing by 26.5% between 1987 and 2010 – that has been gradually increasing for over a decade and is bound to continue well into future decades.
The world is seeing a dramatic inflation of its senior population, which means people are now living life to ripe old age. That’s something we should be chuffed about, yes? Before I answer that let’s take a closer look at how this came about and how it impacts us, the rest of the population and the labour force.
All the Elderly People – Where Do They All Come From?
First off, we can thank our predecessors for being so ‘productive’ after WWII. As a direct upshot of the baby boom, we now have a swelling population of elderly people. And thanks to the wonders of Science and Technology, a significant percentage of baby boomers are enjoying a healthier and higher life expectancy. But why does this affect the demographics? Contrary to the surge in senior population, a number of countries like those across Europe are experiencing an extended slump in fertility rates. In other words, increased life expectancy plus declining birth rates equals ageing population.
Impacts of an Ageing Population
The ageing population has a significant effect on public services, such as public pension and healthcare systems. This explains why the retirement age is no longer fixed. To offset the rapid rise in expenditure the UK Government has legislated a phased increase in the State Pension age.
The retirement of the baby boomers will also result in a shortage of workers, which in turn can cause wage inflation. Furthermore, it can also result to labour incompatibilities, that is, they may leave job vacancies to the young who may lack the necessary skills and experience. The same thing can happen in business successions.
We can spot a visible trend in the labour market of late. Below is a graph comparing the labour force participation rates of the years 1987 and 2011. From this, we can infer that, aside from those below 25 years old, the labour market participation has grown in number between those signified years.
This change in demographic is now affecting how we perceive and approach entrepreneurship. These people in their mid-50s and above with high labour market participation can easily convert and transition to self-employment. The promotion of entrepreneurship amongst the older segment of the population is beneficial both to the well-being of us seniors and the economy.
The Economy Needs Us!
That’s what the statistics basically say. Old dogs like us can help the economy, save it even, because along with old age we have developed more networks, technical and managerial skills, industry experience, and a stronger financial acumen. “If you are good enough, you are young enough,” that’s what I say. Keep that in mind. There is so much potential in entrepreneurship and age is only an advantage.
So, how do my wife and I feel about all this? We feel wanted, of course! We feel special.
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