公共政策的老年痴呆时刻

爱丁堡—一个世纪以前,大部分欧洲国家的儿童数量是老人的十倍。如今,65岁以上人口与16岁以下人口数量相当。在英国,大约六分之一的人已经达到或超过65岁,美国是八分之一,日本是四分之一。

促使这一变化发生的是20世纪上半叶出生和婴儿死亡率的下降以及最近几十年预期寿命的增加。不管原因如何,很多人担心,在未来几十年中,快速增长的人口将日益侵蚀健康、福利和社会保险体系,给公共预算造成不可持续的压力。

但是,尽管这些担忧并非毫无根据,但关于人口老化的讨论总是倾向于放大这一趋势的规模、速度和影响,这是因为这些讨论在解读人口如何变老时反了根本性错误。与人不同,人口不遵循出生、变老、死亡的生命周期。此外,尽管人口年龄分布可能会改变,但随着生命期限变长,年龄不再是衡量人口生产率可靠方法。

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