E’ il grande fenomeno demografico del secolo. La popolazione che invecchia. In tutto il mondo, dove più dove meno, le coppie fanno meno figli e la vita si allunga. Il picco del numero di bambini (persone con età inferiore ai 15 anni) è stato raggiunto nel 2000: due miliardi. Ora la popolazione aumenta per l’invecchiamento. Non c’è solo più gente, ma è gente più vecchia. Le conseguenze sono gigantesche. Una survey di Amy Gutman e Madeline Drexler (Harvard Public Health) dà conto di quanto si sa e di quali precauzioni si possono cominciare a prendere (The Aging Game). Ecco le domande che la survey affronta:
“Aging societies have been on the horizon for decades, not just in the United States but also around the world. The driving forces are well-established: falling fertility rates (by far, the most important factor), longer life expectancy, and the maturing of large cohorts such as the baby boomers in the U.S.
But what demographers once thought would be the passage of a single large generation—like the postwar boomers—through the age brackets is now predicted to be a permanent fixture of many developed societies. Age distributions in many countries once formed a pyramid—with billions of young people filling out the bottom and dwindling numbers of older survivors at the apex. Soon, however, this distribution may more nearly resemble a square, with roughly equal numbers of people in each age group.
Imagining what this “new normal” will mean for developed and developing societies alike raises profound questions. How will societies age successfully? Will most people live longer lives but be sicker for more years than in prior generations?
How should work be organized when a society has more people over 65 than under 5? As people live longer, when will they want or need to retire because of cognitive or physical aging? Will growing economies slow or even reverse their trajectories as older cohorts leave the workforce?
What can people do to increase the number of years of healthy, joyful senior living? Will people in their 80s, 90s, or older need as much help with aspects of daily living in the future as they did 20 years ago, or will they be more self-sufficient longer? Will “dying with dignity” be possible in a culture driven by technologically advanced health systems and nursing homes focused more on protecting the frail elderly than on empowering them?”