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Pensions: The Cost of Aging


There have been huge protests in France lately about the newly revised state pension plan. The French government is changing the age of retirement from 60 to 62, and as it doesn’t take much to get a Frenchman in the streets – 2.5 million just voiced their concerns – one wonders if this will be on the menu for the rest of Europe also. The world’s aging population is an issue that is effecting every government; what happens when there are more people in retirement than in work? Who pays for it? When you take into account that private pensions are largely unknown in France, then the state is forced to air a dialogue that many other nations have been sweeping under the rug. This will change.

An article on the BBC recently showed where humans are heading with this ‘let’s live forever’ malarkey: ‘A child born in 1960 could expect to live for 52 years. Today, the figure is 69 years.’ What this means (beyond more golf courses, and a cash cow for the private pharmaceuticals industry) is that as the birth rate is decreasing (it is, strangely), the aging populace is turning to the state for support – and the state can’t pick up the tab, as the recent financial crisis illustrated.

In Japan and South Korea, 40% of the population is over 60 years old, so it seems the family will have to become more of a care home, at least in the West – The idea that you shove granny into a domicile for the elderly and send her a Christmas card once a year may not be feasible in the near future. The Far East model of actually caring for your elderly relatives may soon become a necessity, not an option.

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William R. Feins , freelance journalist from London, UK; he received his B.A. degree in Economics and his Masters in Sociology. William has always been interested in the mechanics of business and the inspiration of original thinkers, and firmly believes that the former can’t succeed without the latter. In his spare time, he enjoys the ridiculous spectacle of watching table tennis on a big screen (preferably at a pub) and reading weighty tomes about World War II.

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