Sunday, May 23, 2010

European economic crisis combines with demographics: early retirements, fewer workers, fewer children

In a series called “Payback Time”, Steven Erlganger provides, for the first page of the New York Times on Sunday May 23, “Europeans fear crisis threatens liberal benefits”, link here.

The thrust of the article is to map the problems of the current financial and Euro crisis (especially with the poorer or more debt-ridden countries including Greece) to changing demographics. The article has a time graph presenting the “inconvenient truth” of what the right wing calls demographic winter: the ratio of people working to people of a retirement age (64+) keeps decreasing in almost every country. Even pro-natal efforts to provide paid family leave (common in Europe at birth) and child subsidies has some limits in effectiveness in reversing the drop in population in certain groups.

The other major issue is retirement age. In Sweden and Switzerland, only 70% of people work past 50, and in France the official retirement age is still 60. Obviously this has to change, country by country.

On Monday May 24, The Washington Times offered a long commentary by Dr. Robert N. Butler and Michael W. Hodin, "Debt and the demographics of agingKeeping elderly productive is key to defusing entitlement time bomb", link here.

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