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Human capital and redistribution / Why Not to Worry about the Ageing of the Population

Anno XXXII, n. 140, maggio-agosto 1997
Centro Einaudi


Testo disponibile solo in lingua inglese.
The ageing of the population in the advanced countries is a cause for growing concern, especially when it comes to sustaining social security, health and welfare costs. In actual fact, there are reasons for believing that the alarm is largely a false one. All the most common arguments on the issue – i.e., the exponential growth of spending for the elderly, the battle between the generations over the funding of welfare, the undue electoral clout of the elderly – are confutable. Many real problems may be solved – at least in part – by introducing adequate legislation. Nevertheless, the elderly will continue to require assistance and that assistance will imply costs. Moreover, changes to public social security systems could alter the identity of the people who sustain costs, but by no means eliminate the costs themselves. It is necessary, at all events, to maintain a sense of proportion. Overall, the progress in medicine which has raised life expectancy, prolonged middle age and retarded old age is enormously useful. Against that, the burden of assistance to the aged is, in all likelihood, nothing more than a slight hitch.