The world is getting older, and depending on where you live that's a problem or isn't, according to a new Pew Research Center poll.
The survey of 22,425 people in 21 countries, predicts that by mid-century about 1.5 billion people will be 65 years and older, which would mark the largest cohort of seniors in world history and an indication that civilization is not re-populating the planet.
Japan, South Korea, China, Germany and Spain had the highest number of respondents who said aging poses a serious problem, while those polled in the United States were generally not as concerned with the problem of old age.
The problem with an aging population arises when the number of seniors surpasses the number of young, working people, and the government or the younger generation must then economically support the growing older generation, according to Pew Research.
The survey, released Jan. 30, used population data gathered by the United Nations to calculate the population growth of the countries represented.
Although public opinion in the U.S. didn't indicate much concern on the issue, the aging population will contribute to health care expenditures rising to 15 percent of the Gross Domestic Product by 2050, according to a USA Today report on the Pew poll.
Despite this rise in health care costs, only 26 percent of the U.S. population considers the aging population a problem compared with 87 percent of Japan and 55 percent of Germany, according to Pew.
The difference in opinion between the U.S. and other countries can be partly attributed to many of the countries surveyed by Pew are showing little to no population growth, while the U.S. is expected to add 89 million more people by 2050, USA Today reported.
Olga Khazan of The Atlantic wrote that Americans can thank the large influx of immigrants for mitigating the challenges posed by an aging population.
“Immigrants not only help inflate our overall population, but they also tend to have more children than Americans do,” Khazan wrote. “Mexican-American women, for example, have 2.5 children on average, and white American women have 1.8.”
Without immigrants, Khazan said the U.S. would have the same challenges as much of Asia and Europe.
In a special article for CNN, Bruce Stokes, director of global economic attitudes at the Pew Research Center, wrote that Americans are generally less worried about the issue of old age because the majority expect that the elderly to take care of themselves — a sentiment apparently shared by the U.S. government.
Stokes pointed to the relatively low Social Security payments in America compared to the generous pension plans in parts of Europe.
“This is not the case in a number of other aging societies, where expectations are high, spending as a portion of the economy and spending increases are likely to be greater than in the United States — and the ability to pay for such outlays remains an open question,” Stokes wrote.
Sam Clemence works as an editorial assistant for the opinion section and as a reporter for the enterprise team.
- Stretches and exercises for carpal tunnel syndrome
- The best Major League ballparks have their own personality
- Comparing the best regular seasons: The '96 Bulls and '16 Warriors
- 3 Arizona road trips and the vehicles to get you there
- Colon cancer is preventable. Check these signs and symptoms to stay healthy.
- 6 of the biggest skin cancer myths
- Affordable small home makeover ideas
- Locals helping locals: 6 success stories you need to know about
- Sunscreen facts that could save your life
- 6 energy saving hacks for your home
- 5 tips for choosing a company to end your timeshare
- Overlooked water tips to save you money
- 5 of the most adored gentlemen in professional sports today
- The real danger of sitting at your desk
- Most surprising NBA playoff performances of the last 40 years
- 11 classic baseball movies you must see again
- Finally getting rid of fat: 3 methods that actually work
- 4 reasons cancer survivors should focus on food
- 5 spring cleaning spots everyone forgets
- 5 reasons to look forward to watching the D-backs this season
- Common virus attributed to spike in head and neck cancers
- 5 signs it’s time to end your timeshare ownership
- 3 most overlooked ways to keep your home healthy
- 6 ways the air in your home could be making you sick
- CrossFit dangers: 5 common injuries and how to deal with them
- Today's radiation treatments offer better success, fewer side effects
- Tips to make watching TV on the patio even better
- What really happens when you donate to a community college?
- Sun and skin cancer: Separating fact from fiction
- 5 critical lifestyle changes for a healthy colon