Tuesday, May 05, 2009
Do you know which segment of the population is growing fastest in industrial societies? Is it newborn babies? Teenagers? Young marrieds? No, it's the elderly. Population researchers predict that by the year 2020, men and women 65 and older will make up, for example, more that 44 percent of the U.S. population. Similar statistics affect Japan and Europe. Can the industrial nations maintain their standards of living with the graying of their populations? According to new projections from the U.S. National Institute of Aging, by the year 2040, the average life expectancy for American men could rise to as high as 87 years. That's 17 years longer than today's avarage. The same study projects American women could reach an average life expectancy of 92, up from 78. That reminds one of the anecdote, "If I would have known I'd live this long, I would have taken better care of myself." So, if people are going to live that long, we'd better be planning for it.