How The Demographics of an Aging Population Affect Society

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  • 0:02 Society, the Living Organism
  • 0:46 Economics
  • 2:41 Political
  • 3:14 Legal
  • 3:40 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Devin Kowalczyk

Devin has taught psychology and has a master's degree in clinical forensic psychology. He is working on his PhD.

In this lesson, we will look at how elderly people, as a demographic population, influence the way society functions. Elderly people can cause large economic and political changes, as well as some minor legal ones.

Society, the Living Organism

We sometimes talk about society in some lofty, ideal term. At least, that's what it seems like the political science and philosophers do. But, society is a living organism that is influenced by a great many things. If you have spent any time learning about World War II, you will know that the organism of society changed when everyone went off to war, and it changed when a lot of them came back. Aging can also affect the organism of society in specific ways. In this lesson, we'll discuss two major ways, economics and political changes, and one minor way, legal, that changes as populations age. Let's start with economics.

Economics

Economics is a broad topic that basically deals with money or jobs. The first thing we need to look at is something called the dependency ratio, which is a comparison of those working to those who are unable to work, typically due to age. Effectively, an aging population shifts the dependency ratio, which will wreak havoc on later stuff discussed. Let's say that there are 100 workers for every retiree.

Now, a large group of people (like the Baby Boomers) retire, shifting the ratio from 100:1 to 50:1. This will cause certain changes. First, advertisement will focus more on older people because they are the ones who are buying things. You'll know what this looks like if you've ever watched old TV shows on TVland.

If the dependency ratio shifts too much, the programs paid by taxes, social service and healthcare, will fall on fewer people. If the 100 people had to pay $100 each to make the system work, then that means 50 people would each need to pay $200 to make the system work. If taxes are not raised, then government spending will also increase.

It's not all bad news when it comes to an aging population and the effects on society. Jobs requiring expertise are often filled because older people have the know-how and the can-do attitude. On a side note, because the population is getting older, there tends to be fewer young people to work the physically-intensive jobs. This often causes an uptick in immigration to cover these jobs. Furthermore, older people make wonderful babysitters, meaning cheaper day care for children, allowing parents to return to work.

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