January 5, 2019

How an aging population is good for the world

Science Nordic - A smaller population can create a more sustainable society, and the costs associated with the world’s ageing population are manageable. That is according to ecologists writing in a new opinion article in the scientific journal Trends in Ecology and Evolution.

"As the nations of the world grapple with the task of creating sustainable societies, ending and in some cases reversing population growth will be necessary to succeed. Yet stable or declining populations are typically reported in the media as a problem, or even a crisis, due to demographic ageing," writes ecologist Frank Götmark from Gothenburg University, Sweden, along with co-authors from the US and Australia, in the article.

“Endless population growth would be ecologically impossible," says Götmark in a press release published at phys.org and ScienceDaily.

"Overpopulation leads to serious problems, including excessive consumption, deadly conflicts over scarce resources, and habitat loss leading to species endangerment," he says.

The UN population report from 2017 shows that 14 per cent of countries in the world have a declining population, including Japan, the Czech Republic and Estonia. And they estimate that 32 per cent of all countries will have decreasing populations by 2050, according to the press release. The social benefits of an ageing society

Götmark and co-authors found no evidence that an ageing population leads to labour shortages. In fact, they report that it could have benefits for individual workers. Among the benefits of an ageing, shrinking population, the new article lists:

Rising wages for workers and higher wealth per capita Less crowding and reduced stress in populated areas Greater protection of green spaces and improved quality of life

An ageing population will need more healthcare, which could cost more. But, the researchers suggest that this increasing cost is manageable and that societies should initiate more preventive healthcare measures to reduce future expenses, according to the press release.

"[T]he problems associated with ageing societies are both overstated and manageable," writes Götmark and his co-authors in the article. The social, economic, and environmental benefits associated with stable or even declining populations, more than compensate for the economic costs of supporting an ageing population, they write.

"Earth’s human-carrying capacity has been exceeded; hence, population growth must end and ageing societies are unavoidable. They should be embraced as part of a just and prosperous future for people and the other species with whom we share our planet," they write.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

If we want aging populations to be healthy, then agriculture is going to need to change dramatically. The way food is produced today is making us very expensively sick.