Baby Boomer Statistics – point to a looming challenge

Baby boomer statistics show that an unprecedented rise in the proportion of the world’s old people will be the century’s defining demographic trend.

“Something unprecedented and irreversible is happening to humanity”. The Economist – 27 March 2004

The United States Census Bureau considers a baby boomer to be someone born during the birth boom between 1946 and 1964.

There are no precise dates for these demographic cohorts (groups that are considered to have common defining characteristics). But it is generally understood that the baby boomers are the post 2nd World War generation.

They preceed Generation X – born between 1965 and 1976-1980 andGeneration Y or Millennials born somewhere from the late 70's to 2000.

Generation Y are also known as Echo Boomers as they are the offspring of the baby boomers.

With the aging of the baby boomers there is, for the first time in human history, the situation where the proportion of elderly people (aged sixty or over) surpasses the proportion of under-fives.

Western countries are facing a demographic tidal wave. According to UN estimates, the elderly people in the world today constitute about 9 per cent of the total population. By the year 2025 the population of elderly persons is likely to reach 22 per cent of the total population.

The same baby boomer statistics trend exists in China but their problems have been compounded by their one child policy which was introduced in 1979. This led to a significant reduction in birth rates and an imbalance between the number of males and females.

In China children traditionally take care of their parents and grand parents. In future they are going to find this much harder.

Theoretically it is possible for one Chinese youth to have to support himself, two parents and four grandparents. Often referred to as the “4:2:1” phenomenon.

Baby boomer statistics indicate that we'll have to find new solutions as more and more changes overwhelm our world. Traditional economic models are being invalidated. In the US alone there are about 80 million baby boomers or over 25% of the population.

Considering this, one can fully understand the concern that the ex-chairman of America’s Federal Reserve Board, Alan Greenspan, has about this situation “we will almost surely be unable” to meet the demands on resources.

The increasing number of retired and semi-retired will be compounded byextended life expectancy.

If we analyse the impending baby boomer statistics of the aging situation through the century, there emerges another interesting feature.

Firstly we subdivide the elderly population in to ‘younger old’ (those below 75 years) and ‘older old’ (those above 75 years). We then analyse the composition of the elderly population as it is likely to unfold in the next 25 years.

The ‘older old’ will steadily swell in greater numbers than the ‘younger old’.

It will mean that at national levels there will be a growing number of ‘older old’ persons to be taken care of, with all their related costs.

To meet the growing challenges of the baby boomer demographics this generation will be called on to be as innovative and creative with theirretirement planning as they were in meeting the challenges of their younger years.


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