Global winners and losers in a grey new world

A generation ago, it was predicted that the world’s population would rise to 24 billion. Since then demographers have been rowing back, and now the best estimate is that the global population will stabilize at 10 billion – still a huge number but less daunting.

The World Today
Published 3 May 2016 Updated 2 October 2020 1 minute READ

Alan Philps

Former Editor, The World Today, Communications and Publishing

Exceptionally, this issue of The World Today focuses on a single topic: how to survive in a rapidly greying world.

As Professor Sarah Harper explains in her essay, the key issue is not so much that we are living longer but that, in most countries of the world, women are having dramatically fewer children.

Ours will be the last century of abundant youth.

One consequence is that the cost of looking after the old will fall on a shrinking number of shoulders. The contract between the generations – with the young responsible for looking after their elderly parents – is likely to fracture. Each generation will have to save for its own old age.

But how? Norma Cohen sets out a disturbing link between rising stock markets and growth in the working age population. When pensioners outnumber workers, all stock markets may be as listless as Japan’s.

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