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  #81  
Old 12-12-2018, 05:48 PM
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U.S. BOOMERS

https://www.wsj.com/articles/the-lon...ne-11544541134


Quote:
The Loneliest Generation: Americans, More Than Ever, Are Aging Alone
Loneliness undermines health and is linked to early mortality—and baby boomers are especially feeling the effects
Spoiler:
Danny Miner, a 66-year-old retired chemical plant supervisor, spends most days alone in his Tooele, Utah, apartment, with "Gunsmoke" reruns to keep him company and a phone that rarely rings.

Old age wasn't supposed to feel this lonely. Mr. Miner married five times, each bride bringing the promise of lifelong companionship. Three unions ended in divorce. Two wives died. Now his legs ache and his balance is faulty, and he's stopped going to church or meeting friends at the Marine Corps League, a group for former Marines. "I get a little depressed from time to time," he says.

Baby boomers are aging alone more than any generation in U.S. history, and the resulting loneliness is a looming public health threat. About one in 11 Americans age 50 and older lacks a spouse, partner or living child, census figures and other research show. That amounts to about eight million people in the U.S. without close kin, the main source of companionship in old age, and their share of the population is projected to grow.

Policy makers are concerned this will strain the federal budget and undermine baby boomers' health. Researchers have found that loneliness takes a physical toll, and is as closely linked to early mortality as smoking up to 15 cigarettes a day or consuming more than six alcoholic drinks a day. Loneliness is even worse for longevity than being obese or physically inactive.

Along with financial issues including high debt and declining pensions, social factors such as loneliness are another reason boomers are experiencing more difficult retirement years than previous generations.

The lack of social contacts among older adults costs Medicare $6.7 billion a year, mostly from spending on nursing facilities and hospitalization for those who have less of a network to help out, according to a study last year by Harvard University, Stanford University and AARP.

"The effect of isolation is extraordinarily powerful," says Donald Berwick, former administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. "If we want to achieve health for our population, especially vulnerable people, we have to address loneliness."

The Trump administration is looking at expanding faith-based partnerships to combat isolation among seniors, says U.S. Assistant Secretary for Aging Lance Robertson. Earlier this year, the British government appointed its first minister of loneliness to tackle the issue.

The baby boomers prized individuality and generally had fewer children and ended marriages in greater numbers than previous generations. More than one in four boomers is divorced or never married, census figures show. About one in six lives alone.

The University of Chicago's General Social Survey, which has tracked American attitudes since 1972, asked respondents four years ago how often they lacked companionship, felt left out and felt isolated from others. Baby boomers said they experienced these feelings with greater frequency than any other generation, including the older "silent generation."

Karen Schneider, a 69-year-old in East San Jose, Calif., went through an acrimonious split from her husband in the mid-1990s that left her estranged from her two daughters and without anywhere to live. Friends let her sleep on couches and a garage as she scraped by on jobs as a home health aide and Walmart greeter. Sometimes she slept in her car.

Over the years, that support network shriveled as people moved away or died, she says. When Ms. Schneider landed in the hospital with a heart attack six years ago, she had no one to call for help. "When you get older you don't have as many friends," she says. "Everything changes."

Among the most likely to lack close kin are college-educated women and people with little money, says Ashton Verdery, an assistant professor of sociology and demography at Pennsylvania State University. More senior women than men are kinless because women's life expectancies are nearly five years longer, at 81 years. Of Americans age 50 and over in 2016, 27% of women were widowed or never married, compared with 16% of men. Women are also less likely to cohabitate and date later in life, research shows.

Paula Lettice of Alexandria, Va., got divorced at age 39, remarried at 42 and was a widow by 44. Now age 69, the former senior executive says she's struggled to find a new partner.

After she retired seven years ago, Ms. Lettice worried that isolation and inactivity would hasten the onset of dementia that runs in her family. She began volunteering to drive older homebound seniors, started a business helping others organize their homes and invited neighbors over for chili on Halloween. She went on a trip to France with a tour group, although she didn't know anyone else in the group.

Her two grown sons live in Boston and Durham, N.C., with children of their own. When they don't come home for Christmas, she pretends it's just another day. She blasts "Hamilton" music and occupies herself by cleaning out her closets. One year she reupholstered the dining room chairs.

"I don't like being by myself," Ms. Lettice says. "I wish I were dating. I wish I had somebody significant." She recently gave up two tickets to a beer-tasting fundraiser when she couldn't find a date.

In a review of 148 independent studies on loneliness, covering more than 300,000 participants, Julianne Holt-Lunstad of Brigham Young University and colleagues found that greater social connection was associated with a 50% lower risk of early death.

Research suggests that those who are isolated are at an increased risk of depression, cognitive decline and dementia, and that social relationships influence their blood pressure and immune functioning, as well as whether people take their medications.

Loneliness and isolation are bad for your health at any age, but the forces that take hold late in life often compound it. Retirement shrivels social networks formed through work. Hearing loss and worsening mobility impede talking face-to-face and participating in group activities.

Some of the health risk comes from the consequences of being alone when sickness strikes.

Gary Grasmick, a 68-year-old retired federal IT worker who lives by himself, was carrying groceries into his Washington, D.C., row house two years ago when he felt his knee give out. Overweight and unable to get up, and with no phone in reach, he lay there for at least two nights as dehydration and a urinary tract infection led to sepsis. His kidneys started shutting down and he grew delirious.

"I heard the mailman come once in a while and I would yell out," he says. "Nobody heard me."

Mr. Grasmick tried to drag himself to a phone and a sink but couldn't get there. He began to lose track of time.

"I remember being thirsty and having weird dreams," he says. "I was confused and frightened."

A friend became worried when he didn't return her calls and called the police. When emergency personnel found him, his brain had swelled. In his delirium he thought that hospital caretakers were trying to hurt him. It wasn't until an old fraternity brother showed up to visit that he fully understood what had happened. "Then I felt safe," he says.

After more than two weeks in intensive care, and six months in a skilled nursing facility, he returned home last year and made some changes.

Mr. Grasmick installed an emergency call box he can trigger from a wrist band, and began tucking a cellphone into the shirt pocket on his pajamas before he climbs into bed at night.

Being by himself doesn't bother Mr. Grasmick, an only child whose brief marriage in his mid-30s produced no children. His fall, however, showed him that his living situation makes him vulnerable. "You almost die from it and you realize this isn't really kidding around," he says.

In Boston, a cluster of seniors in 2002 banded together to form a "village" so they could lean on each other for household services, social activities and old-age planning. That's spawned 350 similar groups nationwide in what is now known as the Village to Village Network. Members can tap rides to doctors' appointments, handymen and activities like group meditation and bowling.

Mr. Grasmick joined the group after his fall, and he gets together with other participants to socialize and attend a balance class. "It gives me an excuse to get out of the house," he says.

Meals on Wheels America, which delivers food to 2.4 million seniors annually, is enhancing its services. Most of its clients live alone and need increasing amounts of social help. In one pilot project, volunteers use an app to track whether meal recipients report feeling disconnected. Those who do are referred to a care coordinator.

"We are the only people they see," says Ellie Hollander, president and chief executive of Meals on Wheels. "This has been an ongoing issue that I think has been a silent epidemic."

Ms. Schneider, from East San Jose, found a support network after her heart attack six years ago through On Lok, a San Francisco Bay Area nonprofit that coordinates her medical care and weaves social activities into her visits. The group, whose name means "peaceful, happy home" in Cantonese, was started around the Chinatown area of San Francisco. She goes to the East San Jose center twice a week to get her blood sugar checked and sometimes stays for lunch and to play bingo with other patients. She found a subsidized apartment, and now that she has a stable place to live, she's befriended a neighbor who joins her for dollar-store shopping trips.

When she's alone in her apartment, Ms. Schneider keeps the television on from the time she wakes up until she falls asleep "just to have music and the noise. Because then you don't feel lonely."

Mr. Miner, the Utah retiree, hoped for a close family when he married at age 21 while in the Marines. After 17 years together and four adopted children, he and his wife split and his relationship with each child frayed. One son lives in Japan. A daughter stopped speaking to him. He rarely sees the other two.

The next two unions each fell apart after about three years. Then his fourth wife died of a prescription drug overdose. Life improved at age 50 when he married a human-resources specialist five years his senior. They spent most nights experimenting with recipes from the Food Network and playing Scrabble.

Six years ago, his wife, Carma Miner, died after battling ovarian cancer. Now the only family Mr. Miner sees regularly is a brother who stops by every few weeks to cut his hair. His main outings are trips to the VA hospital in Salt Lake City for cortisone shots in his sore shoulders and checkups for emphysema and diabetes.

Mr. Miner sought companionship in a home health aide who came weekly to clean and make sure he didn't fall while showering. When she finished working they would sit together and talk, sharing butterscotch candies and smiling at pictures of her grandchildren on her phone.

She stopped coming in October, after she moved out of the area.

"I just loved having her to talk to," Mr. Miner says. "You don't realize just how lonely you are until you see someone and you talk to them."
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  #82  
Old 12-17-2018, 11:25 AM
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CHINA

https://qz.com/1495127/chinas-retire...dcare-problem/
Quote:
Raising China’s retirement age is a problem for working mothers
Spoiler:
China faces an unusual dilemma.

It has an aging population and, as a result of its one-child policy, there are fewer young people to support the elderly. One obvious solution is requiring elderly Chinese people to delay their retirement. In 2016 the Chinese government announced plans to gradually increase the retirement age from between 50 to 60 to age 65.

It seemed like a great idea, with more workers contributing to the economy and fewer people in need of state support. Economists have spent years, often in vain, fighting the “lump of labor fallacy.” The fallacy assumes there is a finite amount of jobs in an economy so if people work longer, they crowd out younger people looking to get their start. Evidence has shown this is not how it works. More people working creates more wealth, which in turn leads to the creation of more jobs.


But it turns out China may be an exception that proves it’s not a fallacy after all. A recent paper by Chinese economists at Dongbei University and the Norwegian Central Bank argues that encouraging older people to work longer keeps young women out of the labor force.

In China, child care is often provided by grandparents, and more than 50% of 2-year-olds are looked after by a grandparent, the paper estimates. The economists estimate that the free child care provided by grandparents is a major factor in a woman’s decision to stay in the labor force. It’s why China has some of the highest female labor force participation rates in the world; 61.5% of women are in the labor force, compared to 55.7% in the US and 60% in Scandinavia. This is in spite of few protections, like maternity leave, for new mothers. Fewer than 6% of Chinese women leave the labor force when they have a baby, compared to 25% of US mothers.

Grandparent support is associated with 81% higher wages for women; the impact is felt later in the careers of women. There is evidence from other countries shows a woman’s career never fully recovers from time off to look after their children. The Chinese research estimates women who had grandparent support still earn higher wages, 75% higher than women without that support, when their children were school-aged, 7 to 11 years old.

Grandparent child care is critical for women to keep working and earn more. So the push to keep older people working—which means they aren’t no longer available to watch children—is expected to lead to women dropping out of the work force. “Overall, the potential adverse impact on young females’ post-childbirth employment and lifetime income may even undo the new retirement policy that aims to increase China’s aggregate labour supply,” the economists warn.

They urge the government to offer alternative child care options or labor protections if they increase the retirement age. It seems when you are facing a demographic crunch, there are no easy solutions.
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  #83  
Old 02-07-2019, 05:36 AM
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https://www.wired.com/story/the-worl...ZW8UgT6y2xQcVI

Quote:
THE WORLD MIGHT ACTUALLY RUN OUT OF PEOPLE
Spoiler:
YOU KNOW THE story. Despite technologies, regulations, and policies to make humanity less of a strain on the earth, people just won’t stop reproducing. By 2050 there will be 9 billion carbon-burning, plastic-polluting, calorie-consuming people on the planet. By 2100, that number will balloon to 11 billion, pushing society into a Soylent Green scenario. Such dire population predictions aren’t the stuff of sci-fi; those numbers come from one of the most trusted world authorities, the United Nations.

But what if they’re wrong? Not like, off by a rounding error, but like totally, completely goofed?

That’s the conclusion Canadian journalist John Ibbitson and political scientist Darrell Bricker come to in their newest book, Empty Planet, due out February 5th. After painstakingly breaking down the numbers for themselves, the pair arrived at a drastically different prediction for the future of the human species. “In roughly three decades, the global population will begin to decline,” they write. “Once that decline begins, it will never end.”


PENGUIN RANDOM HOUSE
But Empty Planet is not a book about statistics so much as it is about what’s driving the choices people are making during the fastest period of change in human history. Ibbitson and Bricker take their readers inside the Indian slums of Delhi and the operating rooms of Sao Paulo, Brazil, to eavesdrop on the conversations young professionals have at dinner parties in Brussels and over drinks at a young professionals’ club in Nairobi. The end result is a compelling challenge to long-entrenched demography dogma, Trojan Horse-d inside an accessible, vivid portrait of modern families from every walk of life. The authors sat for an interview about how they arrived at a radical new outlook on the human race and its implications for future societies.

WIRED: The UN is a well-regarded authority on everything from public health to food security and global economics. What made you think that they were getting population growth wrong?

JI: The UN population data is something we call vertical knowledge, or “everybody knows” knowledge. Whether it’s the prime minister of a country, a university academic, a business leader, a student, just a guy on the street, you ask any of them, “What is happening with population?” and they go, “Oh it’s terrible, there’s a huge population explosion. I was just watching a movie last night where Earth got so crowded everyone had to relocate to the moons of Jupiter.” It’s just deeply embedded.

DB: And whenever that happens you should really go and look hard at the assumptions, and test them yourself, because most of the time reality has already moved past where that vertical knowledge resides.

JI: So that’s what we did. And it didn’t take long before we realized that there was a whole body of demographers who have been questioning the UN’s numbers for years. They’ve just been talking to each other at conferences and through scholarly articles, but they’ve never gotten this information before the general public. That was kind of our starting point. And then when we went out and talked to real people in the world about the choices they’re making, that’s when the statistics we were seeing came to life.

You traveled all over the globe to interview people for this book. What’s one image or conversation that really made the statistics jump off the page?

DB: There was a moment when we were sitting in this little school in Srinivaspuri, listening to a focus group of 13 or 14 women who lived there. And I kept seeing this faint glow light up under their saris. I didn’t know what it was. And then I saw one woman reach in and pull out a smartphone, look at it, and put it back. And I realized, here we are in a slum in Delhi, and all these women have smartphones. Who can read. Who have data packages. And I was thinking, they have all of human knowledge in their hands now. What’s the impact of that going to be?

Well, what is it?

DB: So, the UN forecasting model inputs three things: fertility rates, migration rates, and death rates. It doesn’t take into account the expansion of education for females or the speed of urbanization (which are in some ways linked). The UN says they’re already baked into the numbers. But when I went and interviewed [the demographer] Wolfgang Lutz in Vienna, which was one of the first things we did, he walked me through his projections, and I walked out of the room gobsmacked. All he was doing was adding one new variable to the forecast: the level of improvement in female education. And he comes up with a much lower number for global population in 2100, somewhere between 8 billion and 9 billion.

JI: Lutz has this saying that the most important reproductive organ for human beings is your mind. That if you change how someone thinks about reproduction, you change everything. Based on his analysis, the single biggest effect on fertility is the education of women. The UN has a grim view of Africa. It doesn’t predict much change in terms of fertility over the first quarter of the century. But large parts of African are urbanizing at two times the rate of the global average. If you go to Kenya today, women have the same elementary education levels as men. As many girls as boys are sitting for graduation exams. So we’re not prepared to predict that Africa will stagnate in rural poverty for the rest of the century.

DB: And that’s just one cultural variable. So you can say that the old models always worked in the past, but what if the past is not prologue? What if we’re moving into a different cultural moment? What if it’s accelerating? And what if that cultural moment really is about the personal decisions women make about their lives?

JI: We polled 26 countries asking women how many kids they want, and no matter where you go the answer tends to be around two. The external forces that used to dictate people having bigger families are disappearing everywhere. And that's happening fastest in developing countries. In the Philippines, for example, fertility rates dropped from 3.7 percent to 2.7 percent from 2003 to 2018. That's a whole kid in 15 years. In the US, that change happened much more slowly, from about 1800 to the end of the Baby Boom. So that’s the scenario we’re asking people to contemplate.

WIRED: OK, but so what though? Why does it matter who’s right or wrong?

DB: A lot of people who are thinking about the future of the world, the future economy, the future of city planning, they’re basing their projections on that future size of the human population. And people are actually making decisions based on this. If you dig in and see that there isn’t going to be a lot of growth of young people coming into the population, a lot of growth is actually going to come from older people hanging around longer because we’re getting better every day at keeping them alive. How does that affect transit decisions in New York City? Or how governments support rural communities that are collapsing at an enormous rate right now. All those decisions are based on having a correct understanding of what our societies will look like in the future.


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Old 02-14-2019, 04:51 AM
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UNITED STATES

https://www.thinkadvisor.com/2019/02...&utm_term=tadv
Quote:
Aging Population Could Cut U.S. 2096 Output 39%: Economists

Spoiler:
The graying of America will not only strain programs like Medicare and Social Security and shrink the pool of experienced, productive workers but also slow economic growth because younger people caring for senior family members will be working less as a result.
That is the finding of a new working paper from the National Bureau of Economic Research, written by Finn Kydland, economics professor at the University of California, Santa Barbara, and Nick Pretnar, a Ph.D. student in economics at Carnegie Mellon’s Tepper School of Business.

The economists project that the effects of caregiving, and the reduction in the percentage of the population in the workforce, will cut the nation’s economic output 17% by 2056 — and 39% by 2096 — assuming a constant population distribution.
(Related: Dementia Has Frozen $1.3 Trillion in Japanese Assets: Dai-Ichi Life)

On a more positive note, the research finds that economic output would increase 5.4%, if diseases like Alzheimer’s and dementia affecting the older population were cured.

The authors cite estimates by the Alzheimer’s Association that 17 billion hours of unpaid care were provided by relatives to seniors with the disease in 2010, and over 90% of people with Alzheimer’s or dementia received informal care in addition to the care provided by professional hospice services.

“As the population ages and Alzheimer’s and dementia prevalences increases, it is reasonable to expect that the quantity of informal care provided by working-age adults to elderly adults will increase,” according to the paper.

The authors recommend that policymakers consider how the population age distribution affects the country’s economic performance when they propose policy changes to counteract stagnating growth. Moreover, they note that curing Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia would provide only a modest boost.

“Aging appears to have broad impacts on long-run GDP growth, regardless of old-age disease risk,” the authors warn.

According to Census Bureau projections, roughly 17% of the U.S. population will be 65 or older by 2020, rising to 20.6% in 2030 and 21.4% in 2035.

At the same time, the percentage of adults between ages 25 and 44 will fall slightly from 26.6% of the population in 2030 to 26.1% in 2035 after increasing from 24.3% in 2020.

By 2035, the bureau expects the number of Americans 65 and older will top the number of Americans under the age of 18 for the first time in history, reaching 78 million versus 76.7 million.

As a result of the aging of America, the Census Bureau also forecasts that the number of working-age adults will fall from 3.5 for every retiree in 2020 to 2.5 by 2060.

A copy of the paper is available online, behind a paywall, here.


https://www.nber.org/papers/w25498
Quote:
The Costs and Benefits of Caring: Aggregate Burdens of an Aging Population
Finn Kydland, Nick Pretnar
NBER Working Paper No. 25498
Issued in January 2019
NBER Program(s):Aging, Economic Fluctuations and Growth, Health Economics
Throughout the 21st century, population aging in the United States will lead to increases in the number of elderly people requiring some form of living assistance which, as some argue, is to be seen as a burden on society, straining old-age insurance systems and requiring younger agents to devote an increasing fraction of their time toward caring for infirm elders. Given this concern, it is natural to ask how aggregate GDP growth is affected by such a phenomenon. We develop an overlapping generations model where young agents face idiosyncratic risk of contracting an old-age disease, like for example Alzheimer's or dementia, which adversely affects their ability to fully enjoy consumption. Young agents care about their infirm elders and can choose to supplement elder welfare by spending time taking care of them. Through this channel, aggregate GDP growth endogenously depends on young agents' degree of altruism. We calibrate the model and show that projected population aging will lead to future reductions in output of 17% by 2056 and 39% by 2096 relative to an economy with a constant population distribution. Curing diseases like Alzheimer's and dementia can lead to a compounded output increase of 5.4% while improving welfare for all agents.

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