elderly running Jim West/ZumaPress

El futuro es viejo

MUNICH – El envejecimiento de nuestras sociedades es una de las mayores historias de éxito del siglo XX. Se han sumado más de tres décadas a las vidas de cientos de millones de personas en los últimos cien años. Es un logro que merece ser celebrado, pero también debemos tener en cuenta que de la mano de una mayor longevidad vienen importantes consecuencias económicas a largo plazo -y que muchas sociedades están envejeciendo a una velocidad récord.

El año pasado, la OCDE advirtió que el mundo estaba envejeciendo a un ritmo sin precedentes y que esto podría ayudar a desacelerar el crecimiento económico global de un promedio anual de 3,6% esta década a aproximadamente 2,4% de 2050 a 2060. Los países de la OCDE en particular se verán afectados por un doble cimbronazo demográfico. No sólo sus sociedades envejecerán rápidamente; las menguantes brechas de ingresos entre los países ricos y las economías emergentes probablemente desaceleren los flujos inmigratorios, reduciendo la fuerza laboral en un 20% en la eurozona y en un 15% en Estados Unidos.

Los investigadores demográficos dividen los países en cuatro categorías, según el porcentaje de la población de más de 65 años: jóvenes (menos del 7% de la población tiene 65 años o más), en proceso de envejecimiento (7-13%), envejecidos (14-20%) y súper envejecidos (más del 21%). Hoy, sólo tres países -Alemania (21%), Italia (22%) y Japón (26%)- califican como sociedades súper envejecidas. En los próximos cinco años, se espera que se les sumen Bulgaria, Finlandia, Grecia y Portugal. En los próximos diez años, Europa seguirá envejeciendo, y se espera que otros 17 países, entre ellos Austria, Francia, Suecia y el Reino Unido, ingresen a la categoría de súper envejecidos, junto con Canadá, Cuba y Corea del Sur.

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