Caring for seniors is not easy, you can find more info on gadgets that you can use to do so in our recent post. Because of various shifts in their demographics, there are many countries such as Japan, Finland, Germany and Bulgaria that are currently dealing with an aging population crisis that affects their economic and health systems.
What’s the current situation?
The population of the world is now aging at a fast pace. However, some countries stand out due to an increase in the number of seniors. In a recent study made available by the World Health Organization, no less than two billion people are expected to reach the age of 60 in 2050.
To put this into perspective, the numbers tripled when compared to those from 2000. Some of the countries where this is an issue are Japan and Italy. This increase is significantly influenced by the aging of the baby boomers, or, in other terms, the citizens born between 1946 and 1964.
As the name suggests, the number of people born in this interval was rather high as the birth rates rose substantially after the end of WWII. The problem that many countries face today has to do with the fact that baby boomers are now reaching retirement age.
The first wave of boomers who retired did so in 2011. The fact that so many people retire at the same time is problematic as it puts more and more pressure on the economic and the health systems of a country.
The impact on the economy and healthcare
The main impact of a growing aging population is the decline in the workforce numbers. This means that there are fewer people are qualified to work in various domains of the economy. Because of the shortage of qualified workers, businesses cannot successfully fulfill their obligations and they have to impose higher labor costs.
Moreover, under these circumstances, many businesses have a delayed business expansion and they often cannot cope with international competitiveness. In certain economies, this situation can also lead to the pushing up of wages that normally determines wage inflation.
To make up for the aging population, most countries that deal with this issue hire immigrant workers. For example, countries such as the UK, Canada, and the US are known for attracting and integrating highly skilled immigrants into their workforce.
Another result of a growing aging population has to do with the costs of health insurance, as aging people require medical resources. Therefore, the countries that have an aging population have to allocate more resources to the healthcare services that they supply.
According to researchers, the country with the oldest citizenry in the entire world in Japan. In Japan, 27% of the entire population is 65 years old or older. What is more, the numbers keep on rising as a study from 2014 showed that the percentage was of around 25.8%.
Current statistics estimate that by 2030, one-third of the population of this country will consist of senior citizens aged 65 and older. The aging demographic affects both the rural and urban areas of the country. It is believed that the decline started in 2011, when the first baby boomers retired.
The reason why Japan is confronted with this problem has to do with two factors, a high life expectancy, and low fertility rates.
Today, Japan has a life expectancy rate of 85.77 years and it is currently in the second spot, with only Monaco topping it with an incredible rate of 89.32 years. People in Japan tend to live longer because of the advanced pharmacological and medical technologies that hospitals use to treat diseases and because of the improved quality of food.
Besides, after WWII, Japan has enjoyed a period of prosperity and peace as well as of outstanding economic growth. The fertility rate in Japan is below the desired threshold since 1974. This factor is explained by the interest that women show in their careers rather than in their family lives.
What is more, it seems like men have fewer job opportunities than before and, due to the lack of financial security, they feel less inclined to start a family.
As studies have shown, approximately 40% of Japanese men have what is called irregular jobs. This means that they have part-time and temporary jobs that do not pay much and that come with little to no benefits. Even more importantly, it seems like only 20% of irregular workers can actually switch to regular jobs in their careers.
Italy is the second country with up to 23% of the population being 65 and older. Similarly to the case of Japan, in Italy, birth rates are in a continuous downfall as women prefer giving birth later in life, as they tend to prioritize their careers. A study from 2016 indicated that, on average, an Italian woman gave birth to her first child at 31.
On top of that, due to the aging of its population, Italy is also struggling with providing quality care to its senior citizens. Italy is also one of the countries that have numerous people suffering from dementia and Alzheimer’s.
In 2014 alone, there were over one million people that had dementia and 600,000 individuals who suffered from Alzheimer’s. Researchers have indicated that these worrying figures are likely to increase over time.
To deal with this situation, the Italian government has proposed and it has implemented the National Dementia Plan. Through it, the Ministry of Health encourages the development of policies that bring awareness about this disease.
Additionally, this plan aims to create a special network of services for those patients who have dementia. The main objective of the government is to improve the quality of life for those who have been diagnosed with this condition and to reduce the stigma.
It should be stated that dementia is currently a threat worldwide. A statistic made by the WHO shows that by 2050, there will be around 145 million cases of dementia.
Another European country that is now dealing with an aging population is Portugal. One reason why Portugal is on this list has to do with the fact that many pensioners from other European countries come here to retire.
Moreover, Portugal is one of the countries that is also struggling with low fertility rates. Due to the aging population, the economy of the country is also threatened. As a direct result, numerous young citizens have left Portugal in search of better-paid jobs in other countries.
Germany is another country that has sluggish demographics. Currently, the country is facing low birth rates and an increase in the percentage of the aging population, 21% to be more exact.
To combat this problem, the government has decided to open its borders to immigrants in an attempt to correct this issue. In 2015 alone, Germany has received around 890,000 asylum applications. Yet, as time passed, the number of applications has decreased. In 2018, only 185,000 such applications were registered.
The decision to encourage immigration also means that Germany now has to invest more money in providing newcomers with education and social policies.
The policies that the country has implemented seem to work. In 2016, Germany had the highest birth rate since 1973.
Finland is in the same situation as Germany, as its population is also aging rapidly. Up to 21% of the country’s population is now older than 65. What is more, Finland has also decided to combat this crisis by employing immigrant workers.
According to the available statistics, Finland has been dealing with demographic issues for around two decades. Even more worryingly, the country has the highest rate of population aging in Europe. To cope with the situation, Finland has imposed various social policies aimed at making the life of the elderly better and more comfortable.
Bulgaria is also one of the countries with 21% of it citizens aged 65 and older. Just like in the case of the other states that we have discussed, this is a direct result of low birth rates and increased divorce rates. Plus, Bulgaria has some of the highest death rates in the European Union.
Surprisingly, out of all the countries that we have talked about, Bulgaria is the one with the lowest life expectancy age rate.