· Economic strategy for the oldest countries ·
Observing the populations of Western countries – in particular countries which could be called “mature,” such as the United States and those that make up Europe of 20 – one notes that the percentage of the population over 60 years old continues to grow considerably. Today, people in that age range represent around one-fourth of the total. In emerging countries, however, they are not even one-tenth. One already senses that the cost of this tendency is not sustainable.
Population aging, in fact, can be considered the true origin of the current economic crisis. In the next decade, the effects risk becoming no longer bearable, because the ever-increasing percentage of people who retire from their productive phase becomes a fixed cost which is impossible to absorb and sustain by those who produce. In addition, increasingly fewer people are entering into the production cycle and when they manage to, they do so very slowly. Not to mention the factor of the changing concept of employment, which had been stable until some time ago. The costs of an aging population cannot be sustained by young people, who, in addition to being fewer, might also ask themselves why they should do so, especially if they are immigrants.
Another less-observed phenomenon, related to the aging of the population lies in the change of the structure of consumption. Summarizing in a slightly brutal way, one could say that we buy fewer cars, but more medicine. The cycle of production of savings is also changing and will continue increasingly to do so; it is in decline and destined to crumble: first because it had to sustain consumption, now because of the drastic reduction in income.
Faced with this reality, it is indispensible to have the courage to address the theme of births and aging of the population. To ignore it is dangerous and it has become unavoidable to define a strategy to concretely support families in their natural vocation to have children. Only in this way can real economic recovery be triggered. A two-income family today earns less than the same family thirty years ago earned with only one income. This is the consequence of the growth of taxes on the GDP, doubled in the same period, precisely as a means to absorb the consequences of aging due to the decrease in births.
Those who govern “mature” countries must invest in the family and in children in order to generate rapid economic growth, thanks to factors such as increased demand, savings and investment. Older people would thus be more accepted and not just tolerated, as sometimes happens today. In the end, nature itself teaches us that if a man and a woman do not generate children it is difficult that someone takes care of them when they age. The State can try, but at a very high cost.
St. Peter’s Square
Oct. 23, 2019
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