A new report, Unlocking Resilience: The Key to Healthy Aging in Arizona, prepared for SLHI by ASU’s Resilience Solutions Group and the Morrison Institute, points out that nearly 40 percent of Arizona residents are 65+ or baby boomers who are at or near traditional retirement age. Even with a relatively high birth rate compared to the rest of the U.S., it’s clear that the state’s demographic future is not going to resemble its past.
The report provides an excellent overview of ways to reimagine work and service, communities and public policy to “put resilience to work.” Still, demographics are destiny. A projected world population increase over the next 40 years from 6.9 to 9.1 billion masks the fact that more than half of that increase will be among people over 60 – people who have already been born and are living longer. By contrast, the population of young children (0-4) is expected to fall by 49 million between now and 2050.
The economic implications of a global aging crisis are profound. The highest rates of entrepreneurial activity are found in the 25-34 age bracket, not among the 60+. Where is the economic growth to finance an increasing demand for health and human services by an aging population going to come from? The U.S. is in a better position than Europe and Japan in this respect, but the trend line of lower fertility rates is the same in most advanced industrial nations.
Obviously, one key to healthy aging is to focus on ways to bring more children into the world and invest in their future.