The ‘ageing crisis’ thesis is
exaggerated. Critically discuss.
gray dawn fast approaches. It is time to take an unflinching look at the shape of things to
come’ (Peterson, 1999, p.43).
The ‘gray dawn’ to which Peterson is referring to is the global problem of the ‘ageing crisis’.
Rapid demographic transitions of rising life expectancyalongside declining fertility result in a dramatic increase in the proportion of the populationover sixty-five. This population ageing will reduce the working population as a percentage of the population as a whole which will in turn constrain economic growth, increase socialexpenditure and lead to intergenerational conflict. This is both an economic and a politicalproblem which even the wealthiest countries cannot afford,
described as a ‘crisis scenario’where ‘an aging population overburdening the individual taxpayer, bankrupting the country
and creating extreme social and political tensions leading to a
‘war’ between various agegroups’
(Northcott, 1994, p. 67-68). As alarming as this prospect sounds while it is logicaland may present problems this thesis appears to be somewhat exaggerated. There has beenmuch research carried out in this area and a considerable body of literature available on thistopic much of which finds fault with statistical data on which this argument is based and
refutes the main problems which the ‘ageing crisis’ presents
while evidence is put forward toshow that we do not need to worry about an ageing crisis that we may in actual fact benefitfrom an ageing population.Demographic IndicatorsThe firs
t reason why the ‘ageing crisis’ theory is exaggerated is the shaky statistics from
which this argument stems. The ageing crisis is based on transitions in demographic trendsfrom high birth and death rates to low birth and death rates. This transition is as a result of