Posts Tagged ‘aging’

Swedish appeals court supports municipality in the degradation of the aged

February 26, 2015

“It is not the pain of death that frightens as much as the degradations of growing old”.

As we live longer, it seems, we also have a longer period of being useless in the eyes of surrounding society. People with diminished capabilities are provided Home Care help in Sweden. This applies also to the elderly until – say with dementia or Alzheimers – they have to be placed (hidden away) in “care” homes where their capabilities gradually deteriorate. The treatment meted out to them also deteriorates and, as we see in so many cases, the lack of care becomes institutionalised. In some cases the lack of care becomes intentional mistreatment. As the elderly become useless to society, society shows them that they are useless.

In Sweden the increase in longevity and the expenditure incurred by the welfare state leads to the care of the elderly becoming primarily a cost issue. The level of care is no longer about quality, let alone excellence, but instead of the minimum to be “acceptably” provided. Though the elderly are an increasing number of the population, politically they are grossly underrepresented in parliament. Age discrimination may be illegal but it is endemic. Privatised care givers and homes have the municipalities as their clients and paymasters. The municipalities just want to do the minimum necessary to stay within their budgets and comply with their legal obligations. So in both privatised and municipal run homes, there is an incentive to reduce costs – and the quality of care – to a minimum. And the municipalities are now using the Courts – where the elderly are hardly represented – to establish the minima they can get away with. The quality of life of the elderly is not really of concern to the municipalities. Their only concern is a minimum compliance with the law.

This is a case reported in Hallands Posten, and it shows the insidious way in which a municipality uses the courts to establish a minimum level of care – in this case how often a person needs to shower during the provision of Home Care. But what has also been established by this unfortunate judgement is that the Social Services Act does not include the “well-being” of the elderly  as being part of a “reasonable standard of living”. Clearly no care giver or care home need now help any of their charges to shower more than 3 times a week!

I wonder how many of the judges on the Appeal bench or how many members of the Home Care Board consider 3 showers a week reasonable for themselves. But of course, they are not elderly.

Hallands Posten:

An 82-year-old man who has fought to be able to shower every day lost his fight against the municipality. The Appeal Court accepted the view of the Home Care Board that three showers a week is enough.

The man has dementia and does not always manage to get to the toilet in time. He also suffers from oily skin and greasy hair and wants to feel clean and fresh every day. But the Home Care Board found that three showers a week was enough. The man appealed to the Administrative Court – which found in his favour.  The Court ruled that the 82-year-old had a quite extensive need for help and to have a shower every day was a reasonable requirement.

But the Home Care Board refused to accept that judgement and argued that it was based on a judgement of well-being. They claimed that the  Social Services Act says nothing about a daily shower to be included in a “reasonable standard of living”.

I would go so far as to say that the Courts are part of the institutionalised discrimination against, and for the degradation of, the elderly. However, they only interpret laws made by parliaments where the elderly are under-represented. But I have a measure of contempt for the Halmstad municipality which has not the courage to take a call on what is right, and instead has used the Courts to come to a minimum liability. And the well-being of their elderly citizens is clearly not of any importance.

 

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“Euthanasia is both profitable and cost effective”

July 28, 2014

I think an individual should be able to choose, and be assisted, to die peacefully and painlessly – provided he is of sound mind and is suffering from a terminal and painful illness.

But I am afraid that part of the building momentum for euthanasia in Europe is cost driven and not driven by a concern for the individual. Countries with aging populations and with well developed public health programs are facing increasing costs for the care of the elderly. In Sweden and the UK for example this care is often “out-sourced” or privatised. Many of these establishments are owned by risk capital companies – which is a little strange – but not fundamentally wrong. But the “quality” requirements they are required to meet are set by the public institutions doing the out-sourcing. Inevitably these “quality” requirements are specified in such a way that the out-sourcing succeeds and contracts are let. To ensure this the requirements always allow the service provider sufficient room to make a profit. There is a clear incentive for the service provider to “increase the throughput” and reduce the cost per person they are tasked to care for. That – in turn – is leading to a deterioration in the care provided especially to the aged who are no longer competent or able to complain about the service received. It is clearly cheaper to allow a general reduction of service, and to only do more than the minimum if and when a complaint from a relative is received. Of course, relatives have only limited opportunities to notice any deterioration of service. The “out-sourcing” itself is driven by cost. There have been many “scandals” (such as this one) associated with the “quality” of service in “privatised” homes for the aged. But it is not by accident that the State and the municipalities and health authorities have pushed these scandals into the “privatised” sphere rather than to be found wanting themselves. Part of the reason for out-sourcing these services has clearly been to also out-source the scandals waiting to come as care of the elderly inexorably deteriorates. The more the care of the aged deteriorates the more attractive a voluntary euthanasia scheme becomes – for all parties involved.

I have a clear perception that in Sweden the quality of public medical and palliative care for the elderly is already driven by cost considerations. It is illegal in Sweden but age discrimination is endemic. We hear about procedures and expensive treatments being denied to the elderly for many ostensible reasons, but in reality because the patients are – in the judgement of the care-providers – just too old and too big a drain on costs. For public medical and palliative care, a form of unwritten age-discrimination is already in place. The aged patient has little recourse except to opt for private treatment and then euthanasia may be a much more cost effective solution..

The euthanasia debate is picking up steam in Europe but my fear is that though much of it is carried out under the guise of concern for an individual’s right to die, much of the debate is actually being driven by public health cost considerations. Many of the statements by politicians seem to me to be trial balloons or electoral posturing – but they have an underlying smell of preparing for curbing the costs of caring for the increasing number of the elderly.

It may be very cynical but I note that a healthy growth rate in voluntary euthanasia among the aged has many public and social and economic benefits. The cost of health care for the aged is both capped and reduced. The demographic of the ratio of elderly to working population is improved. Medical resources are freed for the more valuable, younger patients. And the aged patient gets what he or she wants.

A true win-win!

BioEdge: 

Euthanasia might be needed for poor people who cannot access palliative care, the new Lithuanian Health Minister has suggested. Rimantė Šalaševičiūtė was sworn earlier this month, but already she has made waves by backing an open discussion of the legalisation of euthanasia.

Without making any specific proposals, she told local media that Lithuania was not a welfare state with palliative care available for all and that euthanasia might be an option for people who did not want to torment relatives with the spectacle of their suffering.  

The minister has also raised the idea of euthanasia for children. She noted that this option had been approved for Belgian children after a long public debate. It was an option which might be appropriate in Lithuania as well after public debate.

Ms Šalaševičiūtė will face an uphill battle in her campaign to introduce Lithuanians to euthanasia. Many doctors and the Catholic Church oppose it. Dr Andrius Narbekovas, who is both a priest and a doctor, and a member of the Health Ministry’s bioethics commission, told the media:

“The Ministry of Health should protect health and life, instead of looking for ways to take life away. It goes without saying that it is … profitable and cost effective … But a democratic society should very clearly understand that we have to take care of the sick, not kill them.”

Lithuania merely reflects the debate all over Europe which is probably most advanced in Belgium where even involuntary euthanasia (is that not murder?) has been proposed.

Politicians and many aged sufferers could find this irresistible: “Euthanasia is both profitable and cost effective”.

Two of my friends have utilised the services of Dignitas. So, for whatever reasons it may come, I do hope that voluntary euthanasia is available to me when my time comes.

Population Implosion? Even US fertility rates are at lower than replacement level

June 8, 2014

In Iran the Ayatollah Khamenei has announced his 14 point plan (or directive) to try and revive the fertlity rate which is at a potentially catastrophic low. In the US, Hispanic fertility rates have – in recent times – held the fertility rate up just above the replacement level of 2.1. In China the one-child policy has been withdrawn as population has reached its peak and will now decline significantly. In country after country, fertility rates are lower than the replenishment rate. In half the states in India the rate is already below 2.1. By 2050 the total Indian population will start to decline. Generally improvement in living standards with more attention to women’s rights are accompanied by a sharp decline in fertility rates. Now however, the recession is being blamed for the decline in the US.

Till 2100 the main demographic challenge is increasingly going to be the long term decline in fertility and the increasing proportion of the “aged” relative to the working population.

US TFR - Washington Examiner

US TFR – Washington Examiner

Washington Examiner:

U.S. fertility is not recovering from the financial crisis — and demographers aren’t sure why. The fertility rate fell to a record low 62.9 births per 1,000 women aged 15-44 in 2013, according to the National Center for Health Statistics.

The total number of births, at 3.96 million, inched up by a mere 4,000 from 2012, the first increase since the financial crisis. But the total fertility rate, or TFR, the average number of children a woman would have during her child-bearing years, fell to just 1.86, the lowest rate in 27 years. TFR is considered the best metric of fertility. A TFR of 2.1 represents a stable population, with children replacing parents as they die off.

Demographers expected the fertility rate to fall during recession, as financially strapped families put off childbearing. But what has surprised some demographers is both the depth of the decline and the fact that fertility has continued to drop even over the course of the country’s five years of slow but steady recovery. The rate has fallen steadily each year since 2007, when it stood at 2.1 …….. 

One foreseen factor behind the dropoff in childbearing is the rapid decline in Hispanic-American fertility.

 For several decades, high Hispanic childbearing has been driving U.S. population growth. White fertility has been under the 2.1 replacement rate for decades, and ranged from 1.7 to 1.9 in the 2000s. The TFR for black Americans first fell below 2.1 in the early 2000s. 

But the number of children per Hispanic-American woman has plummeted from just under three in 1990 and 2.7 as recently as 2008 to 2.19 in 2012, just above the replacement rate.

That decline has been mirrored in other Hispanic countries. Mexico’s TFR has fallen precipitously, from 6.7 in 1970 to 2.2 in 2012, according to the World Bank. A similar decline has taken place in El Salvador, and to a lesser extent Honduras and Guatemala, all three prominent countries of origin for American Hispanics. ….

 

A second language – even if acquired as an adult – can help resist the onset of dementia

June 2, 2014

Being cognitively active has long been suggested as a key element in slowing down the onset of age-related conditions such as dementia and Alzheimers. And being multilingual – it is thought – increases the potential for cognitive activity.

Marian and Shook (2012) – Cognitive benefits of being bilingual

The bilingual brain can have better attention and task-switching capacities than the monolingual brain, thanks to its developed ability to inhibit one language while using another. In addition, bilingualism has positive effects at both ends of the age spectrum: Bilingual children as young as seven months can better adjust to environmental changes, while bilingual seniors can experience less cognitive decline.

And – it would seem from a new study – that having the ability to speak a second language, even if the ability was acquired as an adult, helps in this process.

“Does Bilingualism Influence Cognitive Aging?” Thomas H Bak, Jack J Nissan, Michael M Allerhand and Ian J Deary. Annals of Neurology; Published Online: June 2, 2014 (DOI:10.1002/ana.24158).

Press Release (EurekAlert)New research reveals that bilingualism has a positive effect on cognition later in life. Findings published in Annals of Neurology, a journal of the American Neurological Association and Child Neurology Society, show that individuals who speak two or more languages, even those who acquired the second language in adulthood, may slow down cognitive decline from aging. 

Bilingualism is thought to improve cognition and delay dementia in older adults. While prior research has investigated the impact of learning more than one language, ruling out “reverse causality” has proven difficult. The crucial question is whether people improve their cognitive functions through learning new languages or whether those with better baseline cognitive functions are more likely to become bilingual. 

“Our study is the first to examine whether learning a second language impacts cognitive performance later in life while controlling for childhood intelligence,” says lead author Dr. Thomas Bak from the Centre for Cognitive Aging and Cognitive Epidemiology at the University of Edinburgh. 

For the current study, researchers relied on data from the Lothian Birth Cohort 1936, comprised of 835 native speakers of English who were born and living in the area of Edinburgh, Scotland. The participants were given an intelligence test in 1947 at age 11 years and retested in their early 70s, between 2008 and 2010. Two hundred and sixty two participants reported to be able to communicate in at least one language other than English. Of those, 195 learned the second language before age 18, 65 thereafter. 

Findings indicate that those who spoke two or more languages had significantly better cognitive abilities compared to what would be expected from their baseline. The strongest effects were seen in general intelligence and reading. The effects were present in those who acquired their second language early as well as late. 

The Lothian Birth Cohort 1936 forms the Disconnected Mind project at the University of Edinburgh, funded by Age UK. The work was undertaken by The University of Edinburgh Centre for Cognitive Ageing and Cognitive Epidemiology, part of the cross council Lifelong Health and Wellbeing Initiative (MR/K026992/1) and has been made possible thanks to funding from the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) and Medical Research Council (MRC). 

“The Lothian Birth Cohort offers a unique opportunity to study the interaction between bilingualism and cognitive aging, taking into account the cognitive abilities predating the acquisition of a second language” concludes Dr. Bak. “These findings are of considerable practical relevance. Millions of people around the world acquire their second language later in life. Our study shows that bilingualism, even when acquired in adulthood, may benefit the aging brain.” 

 

Without immigration OECD populations will be in decline and in crisis

January 17, 2014

In times of high unemployment the anti-immigration voices are raised very high everywhere and especially in many European countries. Much of the sentiment is rooted in racist views whether against those of Asian or African or East European origin. In Japan it is seen as threatening the homogeneity of the country. But what every politician well knows – but which some will not dare to admit for fear of losing their populist base – is that  without net immigration in, OECD countries will face an increasing crisis of declining populations, declining labour force and an increase in the  proportion of the aged. They are all very well aware that expanding the working population to at least match the increase in the “aged” proportion is critical to maintaining the standard of welfare and health care that they have become accustomed to. Increasing the retirement age – which is already on the table as trial balloons – is unavoidable because even with immigration the proportion of the working population relative to the “aged” is in decline.

In OECD countries fertility rates are already well below the replacement level of 2.1 per woman. It is higher only in Israel, Iceland and New Zealand, and in India, South Africa and Indonesia. China is already down at 1.6 and India is down to 2.63 and declining fast.

The Local

France’s fertility rate has fallen below the symbolic level of two babies per woman and 2013 saw the slowest population growth in the country for well over a decade, new data revealed this week.

The 280,000 births in 2013 marked a 1.3 percent decline from 2012 with France’s fertility rate falling from 2.03 children per woman in 2010 to 1.99 children last year, according to the France’s national statistics agency INSEE. …… 

Despite the drop in the birth rate, France remains second only to Ireland when it comes to Europe’s most fertile nations. Women in Ireland, where the population is 4.6 million, had on average 2.01 children each in 2013.

These figures stand in stark contrast to Germany and Portugal, which had the lowest fertility rates on the continent. Germany recorded a rate of 1.38 per woman, followed by Portugal with 1.28 offspring per woman.

Korea, Hungary, Spain and Japan are the other countries where fertility rates are less than 1.4.

Fertility rates (2010 data) by country is here: OECD Total fertility rates 1970, 2010

Statistics are from the OECD Library:

Total fertility rates in OECD countries have declined dramatically over the past few decades, falling on average from 2.7 in 1970 to 1.7 children per woman of childbearing age in the 2000s. In all OECD countries, fertility rates declined for young women and increased at older ages. A modest recovery in total fertility rates started in the early 2000’s, to an average level of 1.7 in 2010. The total fertility rate is below its replacement level of 2.1 in most OECD countries except Israel, Iceland and New Zealand, and in India, South Africa and Indonesia.

The last few years have seen various trends emerge in fertility rates. A drop in fertility rates has occurred, for example in Australia, New Zealand, Spain and the United States, while rates have continued to rise in Iceland, Israel, Sweden, and Switzerland. The increase in fertility stopped in many other countries. The effect of the economic downturn is as yet unknown, but persistent economic uncertainties can impact downward the number of children women may have over their reproductive life.

OECD Fertility trends

OECD Fertility trends

OECD fertility table

The difference between the decline in fertility rates between India and China is of particular interest. While some of the difference is due to different rates of development, most of the difference can be attributed to the draconian one-child policy in China. But that is now being relaxed as the coming decline in the Chinese population becomes obvious..

The shortages of the proportion of working population – unless immigration is used to mitigate the shortfall – is inevitable and will really begin to bite over the next twenty years or so.

Waves of aging

December 15, 2013

The aging of the world is not news, but visualising the change is done very well here:

Population By Age, Japan

Population By Age, Japan

Population By Age, U.S.

Population By Age, U.S.

Not all countries are getting older. Many developing countries still have high fertility rates, and children account for a huge share of the people in those countries. (Typically, fertility rates don’t start falling until countries hit a certain stage of economic development.)

When you look at the whole world, you see a blend of these two trends — the population of the globe is aging, on average, but there are still far more children than old people.

World Population Breakdown By Age

World Population Breakdown By Age

 

Chinese woman said to be 127 years old was born in 1886

October 17, 2013

It has been calculated that there is a high probability that somebody already born will live to see 200 years. That is just a probability of course but if in 2213 it turns out to be true it is likely to be a woman.

There are 54,000 Chinese who are over 100 years old and about 80% of them are women. And the oldest one is Alimihan Seyiti, an Uygur who is 127 years old and was born on June 25, 1886. She is said to have 56 descendants. The claim is still being verified and there are many so called “experts” who doubt the claim.

A Chinese government news portal has claimed that a woman in China's remote far west is 127 years old, making her the oldest person ever to have lived – but experts raised questions over the supposed record.

Alimihan Seyiti sitting in her home in Shule county of Kashgar, northwest China’s Xinjiang region Photo: AFP/Getty Images

Alimihan Seyiti from Kashgar, near the border with Kyrgyzstan, was born on June 25, 1886, said ts.cn, a government website in Xinjiang – when Grover Cleveland was president of the United States and William Gladstone the British prime minister. …. 

At the time of Seyiti’s supposed birth much of Xinjiang was ruled by Yakub Beg, a Tajik warlord, while Russia held other parts of the region.

Xinhua reports

About four-fifths of the more than 54,000 living Chinese centenarians are women, and a 127-year-old woman from northwest China is the oldest of them all, according to figures released on Wednesday.

The Geriatric Society of China (GSC) claimed the oldest person in China is Alimihan Seyiti, a Uygur who was born on June 25, 1886. She lives in Shule County in Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region.

If verified, Seyiti could be the oldest person in the world, beating by five years the Guinness World Record of 122 set by Jeanne Calment from France. Seyiti was honored by the GSC in June as the oldest person in China after the death of Luo Meizhen in Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, who was born in 1885.

Xinjiang, Hunan, Yunnan, Shandong, Guangxi and Sichuan are home to China’s 10 oldest supercentenarians (those who have attained the age of at least 110), and their average age is 119.2 years.

According to GSC figures, rural centenarians outnumber their urban counterparts. Among the 54,166 Chinese centenarians, about three-quarters, or more than 74 percent, are from the countryside.

The GSC also published a list of the 10 oldest couples in China, who are now living in the provinces of Hainan, Henan, Liaoning, Fujian and Shanghai Municipality.

According to the GSC, the oldest living couple are Ping Muhu and his wife Zhang Xinniu from Yuzhou City in central China’s Henan Province, whose combined age stands at 213 years. The average combined age of the 10 oldest couples in China is 207.7 years.

Population decline is looming

April 6, 2013

I have posted earlier regarding the population decline that is inevitable if the fertility rates around the world continue to decline as they are doing. The declining fertility combined with the increase in longevity and the problems of aging pose new challenges of maintaining the growth and maintenance of the infrastructure that we would have become used to. In a hundred years from now the challenge could be a real shortage of labour.

The challenge in 2100 will be to maintain the balance between those “producing” to those “supported” in a declining and aging population. Perhaps immigration or population migrations or  productivity increases by the use of robots and an increase in the age one joins the “supported” population will be parts of the solution. I have no doubt that solutions will be found, but the “overpopulation problem” would have left the stage. ….

The majority of children being born today in the developed world will live to be over 100 years old.

Now as Science 2.0 reports another model simulation shows that  The Looming Population Implosion is inevitable and just a mathematical consequence of falling fertility rates.

Total fertility by major regions, 1950-2100 (children per woman) (UN)

A model based on global population data spanning the years from 1900 to 2010 has caused a research team to predict the opposite of what Doomsday Prophets of the 1960s and beyond insisted would happen –  the number of people on Earth will stabilize around the middle of the century and perhaps even start to decline. 

The results coincide with the United Nation’s downward estimates, which claim that by 2100 Earth’s population will be 6.2 billion, if low fertility and birth rate continues on its current path, below the 7 billion we are at now. 

The numerical model developed by a team from the Autonomous University of Madrid (UAM) and the CEU-San Pablo University seems to confirm the lower estimate, in addition to a standstill and even a slight drop in the number of people on Earth by the mid-21st century. The population prospects between 1950 and 2100 provided by the UN were used to conduct the analysis published in the journal Simulation. 

“This is a model that describes the evolution of a two-level system in which there is a probability of passing from one level to another,” as explained to SINC by Félix F. Muñoz, UAM researcher and co-author of the project. …… 

……. The team considered the Earth as a closed and finite system where the migration of people within the system has no impact and where the fundamental principle of the conservation of mass –biomass in this case– and energy is fulfilled.

“Within this general principle, the variables that limit the upper and lower zone of the system’s two levels are the birth and mortality rates,” Muñoz pointed out and recalled the change that occurred in the ratio between the two variables throughout the last century.

“We started with a general situation where both the birth rate and mortality rate were high, with slow growth favouring the former,” he added, “but the mortality rate fell sharply in the second half of the 20th century as a result of advances in healthcare and increased life expectancy and it seemed that the population would grow a lot.

However, the past three decades have also seen a steep drop-off in the number of children being born worldwide.”

The first 200 year old human has already been born

December 27, 2012

The journalist Henrik Lennart has a new book out  in Swedish – “Åldrandets gåta” (The Mystery of Aging), where he interviews the worlds leading researchers and demographers about aging. Our descendants will have to learn to have many careers within their lifetimes.

Science has long envisaged a limit to how long a person can live – around 120 years. But now research is catching up with our fantasies. Henrik Lennart interviews the world’s leading researchers specializing in aging. They all come to the same conclusion: We, and especially our children, will live far longer than is common today.

Why? Improved standards of living come into play but also our lifestyles. Advice from the experts can differ: eat fewer calories, stand up when you are working, fast or cut down on meat and sugar. These choices certainly affect the aging of cells, and when researchers finally find the genes that control lifespan and have learned how to control them, the question will become:

How old would we like to be?

Aftonbladet reports:

Some researchers believe that the first human who will live to be 200 years old is already living.

“According to our calculation, half of the children born in Sweden in 2012 will live to be 104 years old”, says demographer James Vaupel.  Life expectancy has increased steadily over the past hundred years. ….. Today, the average life expectancy in Sweden is 83 years for women and 79 for men.

In a new book “The Mystery of Aging” journalist Henrik Lennart has  interviewed demographers and scientists who believe that statisticians world-wide have systematically underestimated the rate of increase of life expectancy and that this has been going on for a very long time.

Statisticians have not fully considered the influence of welfare reforms, better living conditions and more efficient healthcare. To get a more accurate picture one of the world’s best-known demographers James Vaupel, along with a group of prestigious scientists have made new calculations where they have added a factor to reflect the impact of as yet unknown developments – not dramatic but which can be expected in the future.

Their calculations show that half of all the children born in Sweden this year will live to be 104 years old. “In the future, we could live to be ten times older. Why not? It will take time to get there but it is certainly not impossible. In my opinion it is quite likely that there is a rather small child already born somewhere who will live to be more than 200 years old”, says James Vaupel who is interviewed in “The Mystery of Aging.”

Svenska Dagbladet adds:

James Vaupel and Cambridge researcher Jim Oeppen have previously shown that the curve of women’s life expectancy in the Western world has increased at an even and steady pace of three months per year for 160 years. Swedish statistics extend further back than in most other countries, and this increase has been by an average of 2.5 months per year since 1751.

Previously, scientists believed that there was a ceiling for the average life expectancy of  a little over 80 years. Today this ceiling has shifted up at least a decade, and continues to rise.

“We no longer know if there is any ceiling and where it lies if it does exist”, says James Vaupel.

At this rate everybody will be living to around 200 years by 2500.

By 2100 a world population decline and a shortage of a “productive population” will be the problem

November 3, 2012

There are still alarmists and Malthusians who believe that the world will face catastrophe due to overpopulation. They believe that the carrying capacity of the earth has been exceeded, that there will be food shortages, energy shortages and resource shortages in every field; that – in short – the population will not be able to sustain itself let alone to maintain growth.

But like so many alarmist theories (be it global warming or peak oil or peak gas or GM crops) the overpopulation meme builds on beliefs and ignores evidence. The environmentalists are increasingly taking faith-based and anti-science positions. Alarmism invokes political correctness and “consensus beliefs” rather than evidence to silence criticism . Even hard-core environmentalists are beginning to question this myopic adhesion to ideology (Environment360).

Just taking the overpopulation myth as an example, the data and projections in the United Nations, Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Population Division (2011): World Population Prospects: The 2010 Revision. New York (Updated: 15 April 2011) are pretty unambiguous and revealing. Within 100 years world population will be declining. The majority of children being born today in the developed world will live to be over 100 years old. There will begin to be a shortage of  the required “productive population” relative to the “supported populations of the young and the retired” – a problem already evident in Japan and other developed countries. In Sweden (and some other European countries) for example, this proportion is being maintained only by means of immigration and the slight consequent increase in average fertility rates. The “productive population” in Germany would be below the required level were it not for the “guest workers”. The 11 million or so “illegal immigrants” who are nearly all part of the “productive population” in the US  are a vital part of maintaining this balance.

The challenge in 2100 will be to maintain the balance between those “producing” to those “supported” in a declining and aging population. Perhaps immigration or population migrations or  productivity increases by the use of robots and an increase in the age one joins the “supported” population will be parts of the solution. I have no doubt that solutions will be found, but the “overpopulation problem” would have left the stage.

(more…)


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