By Susan Raymond, Ph.D.
An Aging Population Leans on the Arm of Its New Immigrants
Life expectancy at birth, now about 73, will rise to over 86 years by mid-century. The better measure, however, is life expectancy at age 65 and at age 85 because this illustrates the true effect of aging on the productive work force. By mid-century, the average 65 year old will expect to live to 85 or 90, compared to an expectation of about age 80 today, and the average 85 year old will expect to live to well over 90 and perhaps as old as an average of 95 years.
- By 2025, nearly 80% of dependents will be elderly, not children, compared to 40% in 1960. The costs to the public purse will soar because elderly dependency is denominated in terms of both social security and health care costs. Elder dependency costs the economy three times youth dependency, and dependents over the age of 80 are three times again as expensive as dependants between 65 and 80.
- In the experience of all industrialized nations, economic growth is most robust when dependency rates dip and societies can re-invest in the factors of production. Resources — public, individual, and family — fuel investment, not social payments. By 2025, however, the U.S. will have 65 dependents for every 100 workers, compared to 51 in 2000. Fewer workers and greater dependency is in the process of crippling European economies; the same scenario lies before the United States.