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Population Aging and the U.S. Economy

Volume 44, Issue 4 December 2012

President’s Note


hen I spoke recently at all-commuter Governors State University in suburban Chicago as part of a 23-campus tour, one student explained her Interdisciplinary Studies major as the quickest path to a degree. She plans to go to graduate school at “the nearest and cheapest school” to become a teacher and thus provide a better life for her 18-month-old daughter. No ancestral ivy clings to its walls, but Governors State and institutions like it are just as vital to the future as the estimable Ivies. We’re actively engaged on more than 200 college campuses because students everywhere need to make the “population connection” while they accumulate other needed knowledge and skills. Change is in the air. Consider Webster University, where I spoke on the flagship St. Louis campus earlier this year. Founded in 1915, this private nonprofit institution now has more than 100 locations serving 21,000 students in North America, Europe, and Asia—with its first African location soon to open in Accra, Ghana. Education may not be a panacea, but it’s essential. And it clearly leads to smaller families, which benefit all of us. Increased educational opportunity for women was a leading factor in the astounding 50 percent drop over just 16 years in the U.S. fertility rate. It stood at 3.4 children per woman in 1961 and dropped to 1.7 by 1977. The dramatic increase in the number of women attending college was one major factor, along with the advent of the birth control pill and legal protections for contraception and abortion under the notion of a “right to privacy.” Along with smaller families, the economy generally flourished as women became involved in every professional field.

At Population Connection, we’re currently working with experts who share our view that a healthy U.S. economy does not need population growth. Within that framework, there are differing—perhaps even divergent—views. Some advocate for a “steady state” economy. After all, economic growth has led us down an unsustainable, catastrophic path of higher emissions and depleted natural resources. Other experts tend to focus on the direct challenge of increasing productivity to meet the needs of a graying society where there will be relatively fewer people in the workforce. Accuse me of pie-eyed optimism, but I think we can and must begin to shift away from our excessive, conspicuous consumption of material goods and toward the much more sustainable consumption of ideas—of education, if you will. When we “consume” formal education—as 25 percent of all Americans will do this year, we develop the skills and thought processes needed to create a more sustainable future. Money spent on education provides lifelong benefits. A nation that makes learning more accessible to people from all walks of life is far more likely to foster a better future. In a world where so many have so little, there are no easy pathways to a sustainable future. For both ethical and practical reasons, we must recognize that billions now exist in an unacceptable state where misery is compounded by soaring numbers. If America can demonstrate that a healthy society does not need population growth, we’ll blaze a path for others to follow.

John Seager john@popconnect.org

Help Make the Population College Connection

It’s going to take an extended, concentrated effort to achieve population stabilization. That’s why we need the next generation. We’re already active on more than 200 college campuses, and we’re expanding our outreach. You can help. Just email Lee Polansky at lee@popconnect.org or call her at (202) 974-7702 if you know of opportunities for us to make presentations on any campus across the country. There is never any fee or other cost involved since reaching young people is central to our grassroots mission. The Reporter — December 2012

The Reporter Volume 4, Issue 4 December 2012

Board Chair Marianne Gabel President and CEO John Seager Editor and Designer Marian Starkey Contributors Lindsey Bailey, Carol Bliese, David E. Bloom, Lauren Carlson, Rebecca Harrington, Robert Hormats, Ronald Lee, Jay W. Lorsch, Stacie Murphy, Shauna Scherer, John Seager, Marian Starkey, Nate Wallace, Pamela Wasserman Overpopulation threatens the quality of life for people everywhere. Population Connection is the national grassroots population organization that educates young people and advocates progressive action to stabilize world population at a level that can be sustained by earth’s resources. Annual membership includes a one-year subscription to The Reporter. Annual membership, $25. All contributions, bequests and gifts are fully tax-deductible in accordance with current laws. The Reporter (ISSN 0199-0071) Population Connection 2120 L Street, NW, Suite 500 Washington, DC 20037 (202) 332-2200 (800) 767-1956 (202) 332-2302 fax info@popconnect.org www.PopulationConnection.org www.PopulationEducation.org www.Worldof7Billion.org http://twitter.com/popconnect www.facebook.com/PopulationConnection


The Aging Population: Economic Growth and Global Competitiveness


Viewing U.S. Economic Prospects Through a Demographic Lens

By Robert Hormats

By David E. Bloom and Jay W. Lorsch

18 Economic Consequences of Population Aging in the U.S.

By Ronald Lee


Editor’s Note


Letters to the Editor


Pop Facts


In the News


The President’s Circle


Washington View


Field & Outreach

30 PopEd

Cover Photo

32 Cartoon

Credit: Jeffrey Ross

33 www.popconnect.org

Editorial Excerpts December 2012 — The Reporter


Editor’s Note


y paternal grandmother lived to be 99 and stayed alone in her house until just a couple years before her death. She fly fished, rode her tractor lawn mower, and had a pet chipmunk that she fed from her hand on the back porch. She never worked for pay after she got married, but she raised two kids and was always involved in community activities, including serving as president of her town’s senior citizens club for many years. If times had been different, she probably would have worked for a salary well into her eighties. The American population is getting older. The number over age 62 increased by 21 percent between 2000 and 2010, compared to a total population growth rate of 9.7 percent. In 2010, the median age increased to 37 from 35 in 2000. By 2030, it will be 39. Population aging is caused by longer life expectancies, lower fertility rates, and the large baby boom generation getting older. (Last year, the first of the baby boomers turned 65. From now until 2029, baby boomers will be reaching retirement age.) As baby boomers work their way up the age pyramid, they skew the population older. Without putting too fine a point on it, the bulge will eventually work its way out of the pyramid altogether, bringing the age distribution closer to equilibrium. The concern most economists and policymakers have with regard to aging is that the dependency ratio—the number of people in dependent age groups (under 18 and over 64) per 100 people of working age (18-64)—will rise, weakening the economy.* Actually, as the median age has increased in the U.S., the dependency ratio has decreased, meaning that workers were supporting fewer dependents in 2010 than in 2000. Although the old age dependency ratio has increased, the youth dependency ratio has declined by even more.

The dependency ratio is expected to grow less favorable in the coming decades, however; it will reverse course and reach 79.9 dependents per 100 workers in 2050—quite a bit higher than today’s ratio of 58.9 dependents per 100 workers. But, at no time between now and 2050 will our dependency ratio be as high as it was in the 1960s when there were so many babies being born. We are not heading into completely uncharted territory in terms of figuring out how to support a large dependent population for a finite period of time. In fact, this temporary blip will likely prove more manageable than the blip in the 60s because the elderly are better able to support themselves and contribute to the economy than are children. We have put together this special issue of The Reporter to counterbalance the many articles and reports being published in recent years that portend economic collapse due to aging and eventual population stabilization (or decline, as in the case of a few European and East Asian countries). We have found very few articles advancing the opposing point of view—that low fertility is a boon to the economy and that there are many viable means to accommodating a less favorable dependency ratio— means that are much more manageable than those required for dealing with infinite population growth. Our aim is to broaden the discussion so that a more nuanced view can take the place of the lazy existing view. This issue of The Reporter precedes a symposium that we are hosting in Washington, DC in June 2013 to engage economic and business leaders in this critical and timely debate. With the right economic policies and investments, people like my grandmother can continue to be productive members of society well into their golden years. Happily, many elderly people want to stay engaged—they just need flexibility and encouragement from our impatient, fast-paced society to maintain their relevance in our global economy.

* The lower threshold of the working-age population varies from 15-20, depending on the researcher, as you will see in the articles within this issue. The UN uses 18, which is the source of the definition above. A note on terminology: The dependency ratio refers to dependents per workers, while the support ratio (which you will encounter in the articles within) refers to the opposite—workers per dependents.


The Reporter — December 2012

Marian Starkey mstarkey@popconnect.org

Letters to the Editor

Send correspo

ndence to mstarkey@popc onnect.org. Letters are also accepted via postal mail. Le tters may be edited for clar ity and length .

Attn: Marian St Population Co


nnection 2120 L St., NW , Ste. 500 Washington, D C 20037

The latest Reporter was EXCELLENT—good editorial— good records of voting!! Mr. and Mrs. Jack Nachmias Philadelphia, Pennsylvania My wife and I were students at Stanford when Paul Ehrlich arrived there, and have been supporters of ZPG/Population Connection since it formed. While we continue to consider runaway population growth one of the greatest threats to humans, the fact that with wealth comes fewer children per woman has tempered our focus. Rather, the problem could be more fundamental and center on growth itself. After all, wealthy countries got that way by growth economies. Can economies grow forever? We are not economists, but as biologists we look at how nature maintains a balance by continued recycling and having no waste. On the other hand, even in nature, there are cycles of excessive growth followed by collapse. For humans, such massive disruptions can have huge social consequences, as described in Jared Diamond’s Collapse. Can we outsmart nature, so to speak, and avoid such cycles? How can we square a stabilized world population with a stabilized world economy, both with no net growth? I began to appreciate this problem when I realized that investments, including retirement investments and those supporting nonprofits, all depend on continued economic growth. How can we escape that dependence? John Pearse Pacific Grove, California I read John Seager’s letter to the Editor in The Christian Science Monitor, Oct. 15, 2012 issue, and I would add two words to his commentary: “Only when women [AND MEN] have this access will population growth slow, and everyone have the chance to be fed.” I don’t believe it is solely women’s responsibility to behave in all situations, and/or take contraceptive www.popconnect.org

measures to reduce unwanted pregnancies. If men were included worldwide in all education—that is currently offered only to women—re the necessity to be accountable and provide, in tandem with their female partners, for mentally and physically healthy, well-educated children, and be required to acknowledge the male parent’s role in this, then the present onus on women would be relieved somewhat. Your organization could talk up male contraceptives, encourage education of men in their role as fathers, and teach men about the earth and how it is desperately trying to provide for an exponentially growing, exploiting population…then you will indeed be on the right track, I believe. I’m aware that various religious doctrines can try to hamper or stifle your work, but I feel that your “theology” should have vital precedence. Please keep up your good efforts, on behalf of us all. Thank you very much. Judy Harvey Danville, Virginia Oregon State University published a study which shows how reproduction in the United States negatively impacts the environment to a far greater degree than reproduction in other countries. Population Connection doesn’t place nearly enough emphasis on how reproduction in the United States, in particular, contributes to worldwide environmental degradation and social injustice by using a disproportionate amount of the world’s resources. Given the convergence of environmental crises in recent years, I would like to see The Reporter and the Population Connection website give more in-depth coverage on how an increase in population here is far more devastating for the environment and other people on the planet than a similar increase in population in other countries. Suzanne K. Kelley December 2012 — The Reporter



Global Population Aging: A Remarkable Success Story

In an historical context, population aging is one of the most remarkable human success stories of any era, reflecting contributions of public health, medicine, education and economic development. But capturing and unlocking the full benefits of that success require that we adapt our perspectives and reform our institutions. The good news is that there is a wide range of behavioral changes and public policy responses to population aging that would simultaneously avoid a significant dampening of economic growth and enhance the quality of life for people reaching older ages today and for generations to come.

Expected increase in the age group of 60+ in the next 40 years


On the behavior side, declining fertility and increased educational opportunity have been and will continue to be associated with changing social roles and greater labor force participation by women; and fewer children generally yield healthier, smarter and better-educated younger generations. Insofar as health and intellectual enhancement through education translate into higher adult productivity – all well-established links – lower fertility is tantamount to an increase in the effective labor force, suggesting a further boost to growth. Lower fertility also leads to a decline in youth dependency, which offsets the increase in old age dependency. In fact, a recent econometric study shows that increases in older-age dependency do not significantly impede the growth of income per capita, unlike increases in youth dependency. These results support the view that the negative impulse that high fertility conveys to economic growth cannot be offset by behavioral and institutional changes, unlike the negative impulse of increased longevity, which can be offset by changes in behavior and policy. Moreover, when people expect to live longer, they have an incentive to save more for the years after they are no longer working. In economic terms, savings translates into investment, which fuels the accumulation of physical and human capital and technological progress, the classic drivers of economic growth.


= 100 million

Percentage of population aged 60 and older

32% 22% 12%

20% 9%




Industrial Countries

2050 Developing Countries

Percentage of population aged 60 and older under alternative total fertility rate scenarios 30 Low Fertility Medium Fertility

20 10

High Fertility World 2030


More developed regions 2030 2050

The success story of population aging and longer lives is often accompanied, in the end, by tales of doom and gloom; but it is vital that the global community not succumb. Although there are serious challenges, which must be weighed, understood, and in some cases adapted to, there are also enormous opportunities that must be seized.


Source: John R. Beard, Simon Biggs, David E. Bloom, Linda P. Fried, Paul Hogan, Alexandre Kalache, and S. Jay Olshansky, “Introduction,” Global Population Aging: Peril or Promise? Agenda 2012 Council on Aging Society, World Economic Forum, 2012. The Reporter — Global December

Design by Rebecca Dodelin

Percentage of population aged 60 and older




More developed regions


Less developed regions





12% Europe

10% Latin America & Caribbean


Northern America


Percentage of world population aged 60 and older



4% 1950









The UN projects that in 2050 there will be 42 countries with higher shares of the 60-plus group than Japan has now, with the fastest aging mainly in relatively newly industrialized or developing countries. In fact, China and Brazil will begin to converge with Japan, which by 2050 will have more than 40% of its population 60 and older, outpacing the increase in the United States.

Less developed regions 2030 2050

Africa 2030


Asia 2050




Europe 2050

Latin America & Caribbean 2030 2050

Northern America 2030 2050


Oceania 2050

December 2012 — The Reporter





Missouri Legislators Override Nixon Veto Legislators in Missouri scraped together a two-thirds majority in September to override Gov. Nixon’s veto on a bill to reject the contraceptive mandate in the Affordable Care Act. Missouri’s new law is the first in the country to counter the contraceptive mandate. “By their act today, the legislators who voted to override this veto are standing between women and their right to make their own personal decisions about birth control,” said Nixon.

New Virginia Abortion Clinic Regulations Abortion clinics in Virginia will be forced over a two-year period to make prohibitively costly adjustments to their facilities because of a new bill that requires them to comply with regulations meant for new hospitals. The regulations require hallways and doorways to be wide enough for gurneys; they also call for food facilities, specific ventilation systems, and covered entrances. Such adjustments would cost upwards of $1 million per clinic. The Board of Health originally passed an amendment in June to grandfather existing clinics so that only new clinics would have to comply with the new regulations. Due to pressure from Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli and Gov. Bob McDonnell (Cuccinelli told the Board that they would be financially responsible for legal fees should the clinics need defending due to non-adherence to the building regulations), the Board again 6

The Reporter — December 2012

voted (13-2) in September, this time eliminating the grandfather amendment. There are currently 20 abortion clinics in the state. Not one of them meets the new requirements.

Oklahoma Ends Contracts to Planned Parenthood The state of Oklahoma in October withdrew federal funding for three Planned Parenthood clinics in Tulsa. The change will take effect in December. In 2012, the three clinics together received $454,000 from the federally funded Women, Infants and Children (WIC) program. None of the clinics affected provide abortion services. Terry Bryce, the chief of the health department’s WIC Services division, says it was a business decision, not a political move. According to the Associated Press, however, “Oklahoma is among the most conservative states, with Republicans currently in control of both legislative chambers and every statewide elected office.”

chose to do so. Opponents argue that the letters should have instead informed parents that they could opt their kids in to the program. The teen pregnancy rate in the pilot areas is well above the national rate, which is the highest in the industrialized world.

U.S. Births Down in 2011 The number of births in the U.S. fell in 2011 for the fourth year in a row, according to preliminary birth certificate data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The decline was 1 percent from 2010, compared with 2-3 percent for previous years. The birth rate (annual births per 1,000 women of childbearing age) in 2011 dropped to its lowest level since 1920. The total fertility rate (the average number of children women would bear in their lifetimes if the pace of childbearing remained constant for the long term) is now 1.89—below the long term replacement rate of 2.1.

NYC Schools Provide Plan B Emergency Contraception

The Hispanic birth rate dropped the most, by 6 percent. Births to women in their early 20s fell by 5 percent. The teen birth rate declined to 31.3 per 1,000 girls ages 15-19, the lowest it’s been since record keeping started in the 1940s.

A pilot program (since January) in New York City providing Plan B emergency contraception to students at 13 public high schools has raised the ire of some. Parents received letters notifying them that they could opt their kids out of the program—only 1-2 percent of parents

A 2008-2010 study that provided free birth control to 9,000 poor and uninsured women in St. Louis found that when they received counseling and didn’t have to pay out of pocket costs, they chose the most effective methods.

Planned Parenthood filed suit to sue the state health commissioner in November.

Free Birth Control Study

Teens in the study had only 6.3 births per 1,000 girls ages 15-19. The national teen birth rate in 2010 was 34.3—more than five times higher. Abortion rates were also much lower among women in the study: 4.4-7.5 abortions per 1,000 women in the study, compared with 13.4-17 abortions per 1,000 women in the St. Louis general population. The national rate is nearly 20 abortions per 1,000 women.

Contraceptive Implants Discounted for Consumers in Developing World With donations from the U.S., UK, Norway, Sweden, and the Children’s Investment Fund, the Clinton Health Access Initiative worked out a deal with Bayer to cut the cost of its contraceptive implants (brand name Jadelle) to the developing world by half (from $18). The deal will lower the direct cost for 27 million women in poor countries. According to a USAID press release, “When fully implemented, the partnership will avert more than 280,000 child and 30,000 maternal deaths due to improved birth spacing and by avoiding other problems such as preterm births.” In addition, “The partnership is expected to avert almost 30 million unwanted pregnancies from 2013 to 2018 and will save an estimated 250 million USD in global health costs.” Jadelle provides reliable contraception for up to five years. It is a popular method among women who do not have their husbands’ approval to use birth control www.popconnect.org

and also among women who cannot easily get to a clinic for prescription refills or shots. It can be inserted by trained health workers and can be removed at any time, at which point fertility is restored.

600M New Jobs Needed The World Bank says the global economy must create 600 million new jobs by 2020 to accommodate population growth, foster development, prevent conflict, and empower women. The jobs are mainly needed in Asia and sub-Saharan Africa.

870 Million Hungry The number of people who suffer from chronic hunger has been reduced to 870 million from 925 million in 2010. Part of the reduction was due to revised population projections. The number of people hungry has been declining for the past two decades, although more slowly since 2007-08. More than 100 million children under age five are underweight due to malnutrition.

Abortion Ship in Morocco A Dutch ship called Women on Waves that travels to countries lacking legal abortion care was blocked from docking in Morocco. Staff on the ship provide medical abortion in international waters to women who are up to six-and-a-half weeks pregnant, largely as an awarenessraising effort since many women are unaware of the availability of medical [vs. surgical] abortion. Women on Waves had been invited to

Morocco by a Moroccan youth group, but the health ministry said the ship was not allowed. This would have been the ship’s first visit to a Muslim country; it has already visited Catholic countries such as Ireland, Portugal, and Spain. According to the Moroccan government, 600-800 illegal abortions are performed every day in the country.

Uruguay Legalizes Abortion Compelled to do something about the 30,000 illegal abortions that occur each year in Uruguay, President Jose “Pepe” Mujica signed a bill in October that legalized first trimester abortions for any reason. Uruguay is only the third Latin American country to do so (Cuba and Guyana are the others, and Mexico City has also legalized the procedure).

Iran Seeks to Reduce Legal Age of Marriage Iranian lawmakers are pushing to lower the legal age of marriage to 9 from 13. They call the current law “un-Islamic” because the Prophet Muhammad married a 6-year-old and consummated the marriage when she was only 9. According to recent data released by Iran’s Association of Children’s Rights, 43,459 girls under the age of 15 were married in Iran in 2009. As many as 716 girls were married under the age of 10 in 2010. The younger a girl is when she marries, the higher the bride price paid to her family. To read the original articles from which these summaries were taken, see www.popconnect.org/news December 2012 — The Reporter


The Population Connection President’s Circle

Recognizing Donors for Their Generous Contributions of $1,000 or More By Shauna Scherer


r. and Mrs. Arthur and Jane Riggs have been members of Population Connection (formerly ZPG) since 1979, although their concern over human population growth began more than a decade earlier. Like so many early members of ZPG, they were moved as college students when Dr. Paul Ehrlich spoke on their college campus. The Riggs met while they were both attending The University of California, Riverside—Jane a premed student with, as Art tells it, “a deep interest in and an understanding of biology,” and Art a budding molecular biologist, biochemist, and geneticist. It was not their common love of biology and nature that first brought them together, though, but Art’s college roommate, who took Jane on a double date to the local bowling alley and introduced the future couple. Ehrlich’s “population bomb” lecture resonated with the Riggs, both of whom grew up in Southern California. They watched the housing development boom claim formerly agricultural areas. “Growing up in San Bernardino, it was still semirural,” Art remembers. “The same was true of Riverside. When we bought our house, we liked it because it was still surrounded by orange groves.” Within a year, he said, the orange trees had been replaced by houses to accommodate the growing population. “We both saw this wonderful Southern California habitat being destroyed during our lifetimes.” Rather than becoming a doctor, Jane pursued teaching. She taught classes


The Reporter — December 2012

from second grade to junior high, finding satisfaction in the children’s love of learning. One thing she found lacking in the schools, though, was adequate information for young people about delaying pregnancy. “We need to show them what they can become if they delay pregnancy,” she said, citing fact-based sex education and access to birth control as two key factors in helping young people to achieve their aspirations in life. The Riggs have done their part to help solve the population challenge. They support Population Connection’s advocacy and education programs. They also support organizations working to preserve open spaces and natural habitats. Because of their commitment to population stabilization and environmental sustainability, they decided after having two biological children to adopt a third. “It was right around the time Paul Ehrlich published The Population Bomb,” Art said. “We got the son we wanted without adding to the population.” This problem-solving attitude is par for the course for the Riggs. In fact, in Art’s career as a molecular biologist, he has tackled some of the worst diseases plaguing humankind. As he puts it, he’s “been very fortunate to make several discoveries in basic science that have become a fundamental part of disease

treatment today.” He was the first to successfully create a man-made gene, which led to the development of a gene for human insulin, as well as the first recombinant antibodies. These breakthroughs led to the manufacture of the first successful biological drugs, thus improving the quality of life and extending life-spans for innumerable people suffering from diabetes and cancer. Art is also determined to improve the quality of life for people suffering from the effects of rapid population growth, such as children without adequate access to clean drinking water, nutrition, education, or health care. Unfortunately, he warns, we cannot depend on the miracle of science to help support the 7 billion people already sharing the planet. “Critics have claimed Paul Ehrlich was wrong,” Art says, “but actually, he only failed to anticipate a miracle. The Green Revolution came to the rescue. It more than doubled the amount of food that plants could produce.” Art concludes that we are unlikely to see another technological revolution of that kind in the future. “There is a limit. As a scientist, I firmly believe that the public cannot depend on continuing scientific discoveries to sustain continued growth of the world’s population.” That is why the Riggs are so dedicated to achieving Population Connection’s goal of zero population growth. And it’s why they are proud to support our mission as members of the President’s Circle. Contact Shauna Scherer at 202-974-7730 to join the President’s Circle.

CharTer MeMbers of The PresidenT’s CirCle Nina Abrams Fund Michael B. and Mary Barbara Alexander Mariette Allen Janet Jeppson Asimov Aspen Business Center Foundation Donald Ayer Arthur A. and Shirley A. Babad Kent P. Bach Julia Bailey Bill Baird Anita Baly Jill Barnes Philip T. Bee Charitable Trust Brett and Tanya BeGole Raymond Bellamy D. J. Benefiel Bill Berg Robert Berg and Carol Emerson Erik E. and Edith H. Bergstrom Foundation Eleanor Berry Jeanne Berwind Douglas W. and Anita B. Bewick David Blittersdorf Amy Blitzer Trent Block Joseph Blum Althea Brimm Mary M. Brock Richard Brome Mary Browbay and Cottee Ronald Schroeder Charla Brown and Robert Burnett Christopher Brown Fred Brown Lester Brown Art and Barbara Bryant Paul S. and Jean W. Burtness Charles Carpenter Jr. Blair Carty Ernest F. Chace John Chamberlain Wallace H. Champeny Karen Chance Willi Cheney Dave Chizek Hilary P. Clark Robert C. Cobb Jr. Clifford and Carolyn Colwell Jayne Connell George Cowgill Walter Crager Charles R. Crisp Trammell S. Crow Andrew Crowley Gene L. and Linda Daniels Kenneth Deaton, M.D. Edward E. and Julia DeMartini Jeffrey Dennis Ranae DeSantis Foundation Laurie T. Dewey Gregory and Helen DiRenzo Julian and Katharine Donahue Lyn DuMoulin Jim and Maggie Dunn Educational Foundation of America Stanley Eisenberg


Charles and Mary Fadel Patricia Fair Mr. and Mrs. Thomas W. Faulkner The Moses Feldman Family Foundation Nancy Florsheim Kristin Floyd-Gillern William and Rosie Foster Foundation Beyond Belief Cameron and Diane Fowler Stuart A. Fox Frankel Foundation Marie E. Fraser Marianne Gabel The Garfield Foundation Dedre Gentner Don C. Gentry Ivan C. Getting Sarah L. Gilbert and Carl E. Wieman Duff G. Gillespie The Glickenhaus Foundation Jerry Glowniak David and Alena Goeddel Lisa and Douglas Goldman Fund Richard and Theresa Gregg Marjorie Grinnell Jeni E. Halliday Robert Harrison David E. and Shirley F. Hartley Paul C. Haughey Mark J. Hausknecht William M. Hawkins Bob and Rosie Heil Robert W. Hellwarth Leigh A. Henderson Jane Henner Theodore W. and Margie Henning Louis J. Herskowitz Minna W. Hewes William W. Hildreth Eric and Susan Hirst Robert Hoffman Joyce Homan R. E. Hopper Gunther S. and Agnes J. Hughes David Husch Henry N. Ingwerson Jr. Pierce Johnson Jr. Ken Johnston K. Malcolm Jones Henri Pell Junod Jr. Sally B. Kaplan Eleanor R. Kaufer Richard R. Kauffman Joanne and Dennis Keith Vicky and Grant Kemp Thomas F. King Jerry A. Kolar Paul V. Konka Melodee Kornacker Susan Krala Matt W. Krummell Peter Kunstadter Dr. and Mrs. George Kurz Jim Lampl Ann E. Larimore Barry Lauesen and Marilyn Altebach

Gladys and Ralph Lazarus Foundation David Lehnherr Donald W. Leonard Dorothy and Andy Leong Lois J. Levine Perry J. Luke Reed Maltzman and Jennifer Gosselin Norman Mandelbaum Sheila Marshall Elizabeth L. Martin David T. Massey Christopher and Catherine Mathews Richard McCabe McCullough Foundation Janet McKean and David Murphy Peter R. McKnight Kathryn K. McNeil Friedrike Merck Katherine Merck Henry D. Messer Douglas Mittelstaedt Russell Moffett Denny Mullen Robert K. and Caryn McTighe Musil The Namaste Foundation Jeffrey Nelson Lyle E. Nelson Alice Neuhauser and Thomas Conroy Paul and Antje Newhagen Joyce Nicholas Linda Nicholes Heidi Nitze Karen Nixon and Clark Searle Martha and Austin Nobunaga Robert L. Nutt Charitable Foundation William Oettmeier Roman Oliynyk and Maureen Hackett Gilman Ordway James L. Packard Mary Pearlman Fredric W. and Mary L. Pement Joseph Perez Prof. Arthur Edwin Peterson John Petro and Jane Clayton Bob Pettapiece Frank A. and Judy C.M. Pezzanite C. Plantamura and F. Prael Paul Popenoe Jr. Stuart E. Porteous The Louis and Harold Price Foundation Cory Pulfrey Nina Purdon Charitable Foundation Rainbow Parachute Inc. Paul Reilly Richmond District Democratic Club Arthur and Jane Riggs Barbara Rosen Carol Rudolph Milton H. and Jeanne W. Saier

Fred and Karen Schaufeld Michael Scher Henry S. Scherer Jr. Robert and Beth Schlechter Dr. Ray and Betty Schofield Shirley M. Seireg Serving The Spirit Foundation Richard Shanteau Shenandoah Foundation James M. Shultz Silverman Charitable Group David Sirkin Ruth L. Siteman James S. Sligar and Diana M. Sattelberger Emil Slowinski Mary R. Snoeyenbos Susan M. Sogard Zig Sondelski George Sonnichsen Pete C. Sparks Jo Ellen Spitz Fred and Alice Stanback Norton Starr Peggy and David Starr Theodore L. Steck and Yvonne Lange Orlando and Cynthia Stephenson Sidney Stern Memorial Trust Frances W. Stevenson Sybil Stoller Paul Storey Philippa Strahm Lee J. Strauss John and Elouise C. Sutter Lawrence Tarone Thomas Tarpey and Carolyn King Fenwick Taylor David Thomas The Laney Thornton Foundation John and Anna Marie Thron Theodore A. Tyler Jonathan Ungar Thomas VanZandt Verilux, Inc. Bonnie Vitti Ralph Wagner R.V. Wakeland Hubert E. and Frances D. Walker William Warburton John Weeden David and Joan Weiss Henry N. and Whiteley Wheeler Jo Lynne Whiting Searle Whitney John B. Williams Michael J. Williamson, M.D. Barbara H. Wilson Mr. and Mrs. Theodore Winsberg Edward Witten and Chiara R. Nappi Mary Wohlford Foundation Linda Wolcott S. Paul Wright Chris Wurtele Frances Yuhas John Zapp

December 2012 — The Reporter



Aging Population

Economic Growth and Global Competitiveness By Robert Hormats, Under Secretary of State for Economic Growth, Energy, and the Environment

“We need a sea-change not just in policies, but in attitudes about what it inactive or dependent, and in so doing turn “population aging” into the 10 The Reporter — December 2012


he world today stands at the precipice of a major demographic paradigm shift. With decreasing birth rates and increasing life-spans, populations in large areas of the world are aging rapidly, including in most developed countries and an increasing number of developing countries. Aging populations pose a series of social and economic challenges. Standard & Poor’s reports that “No other force is likely to shape the future of national economic health, public finances, and policymaking as the irreversible rate at which the world’s population is aging.” Hence, it’s vital that we create opportunities to enable older persons to contribute to their economies and communities in increasingly effective and productive ways. This will require new policies and innovations that promote healthy aging, including advances in medicine, continued learning, and cultural norms regarding aging. As population aging is elevated to the global agenda, the countries that capitalize on the increasing percentage of older adults, and are able to increasingly facilitate their meaningful contributions, will secure a strategic and competitive advantage in the years to come. Consider the demographic facts: In the United States, 77 million baby boomers—born from 1946 through 1964—are beginning to transition into retirement. In addition to increasing the strain on government-sponsored programs like Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security, the retirement of this large group of Americans could also create significant losses in productivity as well as specialized skills upon which many of our companies depend.

The United States is not alone in the challenge and opportunity of population aging. By 2050, more than 2 billion people worldwide will be over the age of 60. By then, for the first time in human history, more people will be over the age of 60 than under 15. Life-spans have increased an incredible three decades in the past one hundred years and disability rates have been declining. The science of health promotion and risk factor reduction, coupled with advancements in medicine, have made it possible for a large percentage of the population to live out their lives in functional and productive ways. Longevity and health, however, are only part of the equation. As more people worldwide enter their traditional retirement years, the dependency ratio (i.e., the number of retirees per worker) will skyrocket, requiring prudent review of 20th century retirement models. Providing opportunities for continued contribution by an aging population is an economic imperative in a growing number of nations, both developing and developed. This is a new challenge for developing country governments, especially in Latin America and Asia, which over the past few decades have experienced a significant drop in fertility and death rates. That’s why the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) has declared economic success to be a function of the health and productivity of APEC’s Member Economies’ aging populations. This declaration is supported by other global organizations also working to turn aging into an opportunity. Indeed, the European Union has launched 2012 as its year of Active and Healthy Aging. And the World Health Organization (WHO) has begun an Age-Friendly

Cities Program and is dedicating 2012 World Health Day to aging populations. Equally significant is the global health community’s new focus on age-related health challenges, called non-communicable diseases (NCDs), such as cardiovascular and respiratory diseases, cancer, and diabetes. A WHO Resolution calling on governments to “strengthen NCD policies to promote active aging” was at the center of this year’s World Health Assembly in May. This work is an important sign that aging is now beginning to occupy a critical and rightful place on the international agenda. We need a focused, society-wide effort to transform our vision of aging from a time of dependency to a time of continued growth, contribution, and social and economic participation. Older adults have a wealth of experience and much to contribute. We need a sea-change not just in policies, but in attitudes about what it means to grow old. We must break the stereotype that to be old is to be inactive or dependent, and in so doing turn “population aging” into the century’s greatest achievement. Collaborating with our private sector and global partners is a path to sharing strategies and solutions to the truly global phenomenon of population aging. On the government side, an important step will be to broaden the base of collaboration on aging populations to include not only health, but also economic, finance, and trade portfolios. Working together, we can turn the longevity bequeathed us from the 20th century into a positive driver of growth, contribution, and economic activity in the 21st.

means to grow old. We must break the stereotype that to be old is to be century’s greatest achievement.” www.popconnect.org

December 2012 — The Reporter 11

Viewing U.S. Economic Prospects Through a Demographic Lens By David E. Bloom, Clarence James Gamble Professor of Economics and Demography at the Harvard School of Public Health, and Jay W. Lorsch, Louis Kirstein Professor of Human Relations at the Harvard Business School


ince World War II, the United States has experienced dramatic demographic and economic changes.

• The overall population doubled, from 158 million in 1950 to 316 million in 2012—with the United Nations Population Division projecting a further increase to 362 million by 2030. • The ratio of the working-age population (ages 15-64) to the nonworking-age population (ages 14 and under or 65 and over) rose from a low of 1.5 in the early 1960s to a high of 2.05 in 2006, and then down slightly

12 The Reporter — December 2012

to just under 2.0 in 2012—with a projected further drop to below 1.6 in 2030. These trends matter because they influence the level and growth rate of income per capita and the relative position of America in the world economy. The higher worker to non-worker ratio, which began when the baby boomer generation (i.e., the 1946-1964 birth cohort) entered the workforce, led to a surge in savings, investment, and the supply of labor, and was accompanied by unprecedented prosperity. Since 1960, GDP has nearly quintupled in real terms, while GDP per capita has almost tripled.

But what is ahead for America? New demographics are clearly in the offing, most notably a dramatic rise in the share of elderly people and major changes in racial and ethnic composition. The median age of the U.S. population increased from 30 to 37 between 1950 and today and is projected to reach 39 by 2030. And the year from April 2010April 2011 was the first time that there were more non-white babies born than white babies. Non-Hispanic whites are expected to make up less than half of the U.S. population by 2050. This article assesses how future demographic changes may shape economic

Photo: Stuart Key, Dreamstime.com

prospects for the United States. We aim to dispel myths about the inevitability of negative economic consequences associated with key demographic changes such as declines in the ratio of the workingage to the non-working-age population, population aging, continued immigration, and changes in the U.S. population’s racial and ethnic composition.

Evolving views on population growth and economic growth For over two centuries, it has been commonly believed that rapid population growth stood in the way of improvements in standards of living. During most of the 1980s and 1990s, new evidence led most www.popconnect.org

economists to think that population growth per se has no effect on economic growth. In the past 15 years, however, studies have found that, at least in some countries, rapid population growth does tend to impede economic growth and poverty alleviation, largely by elevating the burden of youth dependency. By contrast, declining fertility makes this burden more manageable by increasing the ratio of the working-age to the non-working-age populations. This ratio invariably rises as populations make the transition from high to low rates of fertility and mortality (mainly because the changes are asynchronous, with death rates declining first) and in the period following a baby boom. When that happens, there is considerable potential for increasing economic output on a per capita basis. The potential is due to the swelling of the labor force and of levels of savings per capita. These accounting effects are typically magnified by the rise in women’s participation in the workforce that naturally comes with a decline in fertility, the boost to savings that occurs because the incentive to save for longer periods of retirement increases as people live longer, and society’s ability to comfortably reallocate resources from investments in children to investments in physical capital, job training, technological progress, and strengthening other institutions. The combined effect, known as the “demographic dividend,” is estimated to have accounted for one-third of the rapid economic growth in the East Asian “miracle” countries between 1965 and 1990 (i.e., about two of the six percentage points in the annual growth of income per capita). Similarly, the near-absence of this change in the age structure of Africa, where high fertility remained the norm, is likely a decisive factor underlying that continent’s slow economic growth. That said, it is important to note that a demographic dividend does not take

place automatically. It requires policies and practices that promote the efficient use of labor and capital, including policies related to education, governance, business, labor legislation, trade, macroeconomic management, and relations with neighboring countries. Where do some of the world’s biggest economies stand now in terms of this demographic trend? As Figure 1 (next page) shows, the United States is now near an all-time high in the ratio of its working-age to non-working-age population, although the coming decades will see a large decline in this ratio, back to the level of the 1960s. Both Germany and Japan have already begun to experience a long projected decline in this indicator. China and Russia have very high ratios, but are just now reaching their peaks and will soon see rapid declines; Brazil is on a similar trend, although at a lower level. And India still has a ways to go before it peaks.

Major U.S. demographic changes underway With these facts in mind, we can look at the economic challenges and opportunities associated with demographic change in the United States now and over the coming decades. Several of them— immigration, population aging, and the changing racial and ethnic composition of the country—have set off alarms about the future of the U.S. economy. But are these alarms justified? Let’s start with the trends themselves. Immigration. The United States has long been a magnet for immigrants. The number of people obtaining legal permanent residence status first surpassed 1 million in 1905. At the onset of World War I, immigration plunged to about 300,000 per year, and it declined even further during the Great Depression. After World War II, immigration increased rapidly, reaching 640,000 in 1988 and then December 2012 — The Reporter 13

Viewing U.S. Economic Prospects Through a Demographic Lens

Ratio of working-age to non-working-age population


2.5 USA Germany Japan


Russia India China Brazil


1.0 1950 1960 1970 1980 1990 2000 2010 2020 2030 2040 2050

Figure 1: Ratio of working-age to non-working-age population has peaked in the U.S. Source: UN, World Population Prospects: The 2010 Revision.

jumping to 1.1 million the next year and an all-time high of 1.8 million in 1991. The number fell again in the 1990s, but rose again and has exceeded 1 million in every year since 2005. Although the number of new legal immigrants was roughly equal in 1905 and 2011, the share of such new immigrants is much smaller now than then. The distribution of immigration by country of origin has changed considerably over time. In the decade beginning 1900, Europeans made up more than 90 percent of all legal immigrants, but their share fell to 56 percent in the 1950s, with most of the rest from Canada, Mexico, Asia, and the Caribbean. However, in 2011, about 90 percent were from Asia or Latin America (roughly equally divided)—with 55 percent of all legal immigrants obtaining permanent resident status being female (57 percent among those 21 or older) and 45 percent between ages 20 and 39. Although immigrants distribute themselves very unevenly among U.S. states, the top 14 The Reporter — December 2012

well above the median ages of 32 and 28 among the black population and the Hispanic population, respectively. Although Hispanics only make up onesixth of the U.S. population, they will account for more than half of U.S. population growth during 2000-2015.

destinations have been remarkably stable over time: California, New York, Texas, Florida, Illinois, and New Jersey. As for the total number of immigrants living in the United States, this is unknown because of the uncertainty about illegal immigration. Some estimates suggest that the total reaches about 40 million— which would represent a similar share of the total population compared with the beginning of the 20th century—although a much higher share than in the intervening years. For the undocumented immigrants, estimates range widely, from as low as 7 million to as high as 20 million. The Pew Hispanic Center estimated in 2005 that 57 percent were from Mexico, with roughly 25 percent from other Latin American countries. Changing racial and ethnic composition. Non-Hispanic whites account for 64 percent of the U.S. population, a figure that has been, and is projected to continue, falling over time. The median age of this demographic group is almost 42,

An important contributor to the declining share of non-Hispanic whites is their relatively low share of population in the prime reproductive ages, and their relatively low rates of fertility during those years. Hispanic immigration is also a powerful contributor to the changing racial and ethnic makeup of the U.S. population. As is well known, the average income of blacks and Hispanics in the United States is far below that of whites. The gaps in wealth tend to receive less attention, but they, too, are enormous. In 2009, the median net worth of white households was $113,000. The figures for Hispanic and black households were $6,300 and $5,700, respectively. These differences in economic circumstances reflect many underlying factors, among them education and training. In general and for a variety of reasons, blacks and Hispanics have lower levels of education and skill than non-Hispanic whites and are less prepared to enter occupations with relatively high levels of compensation. Population aging. The share of the elderly is rising worldwide, with the highest levels occurring in developed countries (especially Japan and in Europe). However, some of the sharpest increases will take place in countries in the developing world, most prominently Brazil and China. In the United States, those aged 65 and older have shot up

from 13 million in 1950 (8 percent of the population) to 43 million (14 percent) in 2012—and this figure is projected to grow to 20 percent by 2030. Also notable is the growing share of the “oldest old”—those 85 and older—whose needs and capacities are substantially different from those aged 65-84. The 85+ crowd in the U.S. has also grown rapidly, from 1.2 percent of total population in 1990 to 2.0 percent today, with projections of 2.4 percent in 2030. Rising elder shares reflect the aging of large baby boom cohorts and increased longevity, as well as changes in fertility and net immigration.

Economic salience of these demographic shifts So what are the economic and political worries associated with these demographic trends? First, U.S. productivity might fall. The concern is that black and Hispanic workers have substantially lower education and skill than the non-Hispanic whites they will increasingly be replacing in the labor force. Absent appropriate action (increasing educational attainment and skills training of minority populations), this could translate into slower productivity and income growth for the United States. Second, skill shortages may impede competitiveness. Some have argued that certain pockets of the U.S. workforce suffer from unemployment in part because they lack the skills that employers seek. Others find no evidence at all that such a skills gap exists and argue that unemployment is due primarily to lack of aggregate demand. Third, population aging might create numerous financial problems. Concerns center on the large portion of the www.popconnect.org

population that will be, to varying extents, dependent on the working-age population for financial support, physical care, and companionship. For most of the elderly, financial support comes from a combination of sources, including personal savings, family members, Social Security, private pensions, and continued work. The long-term viability of some of these sources largely depends on the overall economy and (in some instances) the productive output of younger generations. The elderly may also legitimately worry about companionship, as smaller families, larger generation gaps, geographic mobility, and in some cases changing expectations lessen younger people’s connections to their parents and grandparents. Health care. Rising health care costs have the potential to hobble the U.S. economy. In 2010, the United States spent 18 percent of GDP on health care (the highest by far from both a historical and comparative perspective). A rising share of the elderly in the population has led to fears that health care costs will inevitably continue to increase, as the elderly are more prone to experience one or more costly-to-treat chronic conditions such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, cancer, and chronic respiratory

“In the United States, those aged 65 and older have shot up from 13 million in 1950 (8 percent of the population) to 43 million (14 percent) in 2012—and this figure is projected to grow to 20 percent by 2030.”

disease. Evidence on the “compression of morbidity” into a (relatively or absolutely) smaller part of a longer life cycle is thin and is doing little to silence alarms that have been sounding in various quarters about the fiscal implications of population aging. Social Security. The rapid rise in the elderly share of the population has, appropriately, focused attention on the financial unsustainability of our payas-you-go Social Security system. This public finance challenge creates huge risks to the economic well-being of the elderly, especially those who traditionally rely more heavily on Social Security benefits for support: the less educated, less skilled, and less wealthy. Although politically contentious, there are a number of reforms to contribution and benefit schedules that could address this issue. Fourth, social welfare dependency is poised to rise. Many Americans benefit from social welfare programs. Unemployment benefits, food stamps, Medicaid, and Social Security payments to the disabled and to survivors of Social Security recipients are prominent among these. Increasing shares of elderly and black and Hispanic populations suggest greater demands on these programs, which may crowd out investments in myriad forms of physical and human capital, and technological progress—all classic drivers of economic growth.

Countervailing demographics Some of the demographic trends discussed above imply potential economic difficulties for the United States in the years ahead. However, there are two countervailing trends, involving fertility and immigration. Fertility.





December 2012 — The Reporter 15

Viewing U.S. Economic Prospects Through a Demographic Lens 7

Children per woman

6 5 USA Germany


Japan Russia India


China Brazil

2 1 1950 1960 1970 1980 1990 2000 2010 2020 2030 2040 2050

Figure 2: U.S. fertility rate is roughly at replacement level. Source: UN, World Population Prospects: The 2010 Revision.

developed countries, the fertility rate in the United States has not fallen well below its long-run replacement level (roughly 2.1 children per woman). Indeed, as shown in Figure 2, fertility has actually increased since 1980 and is now at replacement level. By contrast, Germany (at 1.5 children per woman) and Japan (at 1.4)—as well as many other countries—have fertility rates that are far below the long-run replacement level. Relatively high fertility in the United States means that there will be a correspondingly robust rate of new entrants to the labor force in the coming years, a trend that will likely be reinforced by continuing immigration. Income per capita in the U.S. will benefit from having large numbers of potential workers and savers; the fiscal integrity of Social Security and health care financing stand to benefit as well. Immigration. Immigrants are often selfselected for their work ethic, ambition, 16 The Reporter — December 2012

and willingness to take risk. Moreover, a large portion of immigrants are of working age: 45 percent are between 20 and 39, whereas the corresponding figure for the U.S. population as a whole is 27 percent. The influx of working-age immigrants is a factor that pushes the working-age share of the population in the United States to decline more slowly than in many other developed countries that have more restrictive immigration policies. Liberalizing immigration policy, especially for skilled migrants, could provide a further boost to the size and quality of the U.S. workforce.

Countervailing public policies and business practices Public and private policymakers in the United States can also adopt policies that will adapt to the demographic changes that lay ahead. Human capital policy. Whether or not there is any skills gap right now, it is clear that the fortunes of the U.S. are tied closely to the education, training,

and health of its future workforce. The projected decline in the working-age share of the U.S. population associated with population aging can be offset by investments in schooling and health. Such investments have the potential to magnify the size of the effective labor force insofar as more and better education and better health results in more productive adults. Investments can also be disproportionately directed toward minority populations to promote their employment, productivity, and earnings and stem the tide of further increases in income inequality. Retirement policy. Life expectancy in the U.S. has increased much faster than the normal age of eligibility for full Social Security benefits. This disparity suggests that raising the retirement age is a natural approach to addressing the tightening of the labor market that may be expected to accompany population aging. Indeed, expectations of greater longevity are plausibly associated with the desire to work to later ages, which may account for recent increases in the legal age of retirement in a number of wealthy industrial countries—including the scheduled increase in the U.S. from 65 (for people born prior to 1938) to 67 (for people born after 1959). On the other hand, life expectancy at age 65 for male Social Security-covered workers in the upper half of earners rose from 15.5 years for the cohort born in 1912 to 21.5 years for the cohort born in 1941, a gain of 6.0 years. By contrast, the corresponding gain for earners in the lower half of the distribution was less than 1.5 years. These data suggest that raising the retirement age beyond the two-year increase that has already occurred would impose a greater relative burden on low than high earners.

Human resource practices. Business has been slow to plan for population aging, but delay won’t be an option for much longer. Unemployment is high now, but as the recovery proceeds, labor markets will tighten and companies will have little choice but to welcome older employees. Indeed, prompt action to harness—and enhance—the contributions of older workers will be seen as a key competitive advantage. Older employees who wish to keep working may demand flexible roles and schedules. Allowing more part-time work and telecommuting will entice older workers to stay on, extending their careers by placing lighter burdens on them. Allocating demanding physical tasks to younger employees will produce a similar benefit. Ongoing training, meanwhile, will help older workers master new skills as the economy changes. And employees’ longer working lives give companies the benefit of greater productivity gains from their training investments. Wellness programs produce healthier employees at all ages; on-site clinics save workers time and tend to lead to more prevention and early detection of illness and disease, which also lowers costs. Last, moving from pay systems that are seniority-based to ones that give increased weight to performance will likely lead to a relaxation of corporate norms surrounding age at retirement.

Conclusion The U.S. population will continue to grow at a robust pace in the decades ahead, ensuring a steady flow of new entrants to the workforce. But the combination of population aging and the fact www.popconnect.org

that low-education and low-skill racial and ethnic minorities will make up an ever-larger portion of the workforce is raising worries about future worker and skill shortages and about the macroeconomic performance of the U.S. economy, especially when compared to the BRICs (Brazil, Russia, India, and China). But demography need not be destiny. As the debate surrounding the recent U.S. election brought to the fore, there are wide-ranging views of the public and private policy options that offer the most potent means of adapting to the new demographic contours of U.S. society. These include finding the means and will to control health costs for the aging population. They also must consist of educational policies at the federal and local levels that encourage learning that meets the needs of our changing workforce and the technological demands they will confront at work, whether in manufacturing or service jobs. In this regard, now is the moment to confront the character of American

“The projected decline in the working-age share of the U.S. population associated with population aging can be offset by investments in schooling and health. Such investments have the potential to magnify the size of the effective labor force insofar as more and better education and better health results in more productive adults.”

education—to make elementary and secondary education appropriate to the development of skill and learning that the multicultural youth of America will require. It is also time to make a serious assessment of the state of American public and private higher education. Colleges and universities have been the pride of America since the creation of land grant colleges and the GI bill after World War II. But now we need to reassess how these institutions might change to serve the country’s needs in light of its changing population and the technological changes to come. There is also a need to rethink the role of older Americans in society. It is not only a matter of reinforcing the Social Security System to ensure its viability and providing quality health care at a sustainable cost. It is also rethinking how older Americans can contribute to society both through paid work and as volunteers for as long as they are able. Finally, this is the moment to consider immigration policies that both sustain the openness of the United States and ensure that newcomers can be assimilated as citizens who make needed social and economic contributions. The predictability of demographic trends is a powerful tool in policymakers’ arsenal. Being able to peer into the crystal ball improves our capacity to plan and devise both proactive and reactive strategies for heading off problems and taking advantage of potential opportunities. In that way, the demographic lens can help guide us to the economic future to which we aspire. Sources for this article available on our website: www.popconnect.org/December2012

December 2012 — The Reporter 17

Article Title Article Author

Economic Consequences of Population Aging in the U.S.

18 The Reporter — December 2012

By Ronald Lee, Ph.D. Departments of Demography and Economics University of California, Berkeley


he United States, like all rich industrial nations, will experience substantial aging of its population in the coming decades, even though its population is expected to continue to grow at a modest pace throughout the 21st century. If population growth were to cease, population aging would be more rapid. In this article, I will discuss the economic consequences of population aging in the U.S., drawing heavily on a report of the National Research Council (NRC) on the long-term macroeconomic consequences of population aging, produced by a committee that I co-chaired. However, the views expressed here are my own, not those of the Committee or the NRC. We naturally think of longer life as the root cause of population aging in the U.S. and elsewhere. Focusing on longevity leads to the idea that we should adjust our individual life cycles, for example working longer or saving more. But population aging goes beyond changes in the individual life cycle and refers to the population as a whole. Population aging is certainly due in part to longer life, but it is also due to lower fertility and the slower population growth it causes. In the U.S., the timing of population aging is much affected by our massive baby boom generation, which has just begun to turn 65, and which is beginning to raise rapidly the share of the older population. Low fertility and the aging of the baby boomers mean that our economic adjustments will need to be much greater than those that would be sufficient to compensate for longer life.

A large rally was held at the Wang Center in Boston on Nov. 9, 2011 to protest proposed cuts to Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. Photo: John Tlumacki/The Boston Globe via Getty Images


Trends in life expectancy in the U.S. and in other industrial nations are shown in Chart 1 (next page). Around 1950, the U.S. was close to the leaders in longevity, but over the past 60 years our progress has been slow and we have moved to the bottom. Our life expectancy of 78 is five years less than Japan’s at 83. Looking to the future, the red line shows the projection of the Social Security Actuary that life expectancy will rise to 82.2. However, the NRC Committee concluded that life expectancy was likely to rise about 50 December 2012 — The Reporter 19

percent faster than that, to 84.5 years in 2050, as shown by the short blue line, and consequently that the population would age more rapidly.


But what about immigration? Is that what is keeping the U.S. young? Immigration does contribute, but it 20 The Reporter — December 2012


Life Expectancy  


Partly because of living longer, and partly because of retiring earlier, the ratio of years spent in retirement compared to working also grew from 35 percent in 1962 to 41 percent in 2010, and is projected to reach 52 percent by 2050, which would mean that the average individual would work two years for each year spent in retirement.

France Spain  


Italy Canada  


Germany UK  



60 1950  




Tech Panel  



Percent Aged  65+  

The other major source of population aging is low fertility. Fertility in the U.S. has been at 2.0 or 2.1 births per woman for a long time, although the recession has brought it down to 1.9 more recently. In other rich industrial nations in Europe and East Asia, it has long been far lower, averaging around 1.5 or 1.6. For this reason, the population is younger in the U.S., and it will age less rapidly in the coming decades. Chart 2 shows the proportion of the population age 65 and over in the U.S. and other rich countries. We see that in 1950, France was the oldest of these countries, while the U.S. was in the middle of the pack and Japan was the youngest by far. Over the decades, though, the U.S. aged less rapidly and is now the youngest and is projected to remain the youngest through 2050. Japan, on the other hand, has aged very rapidly due to its swift fertility decline and very long life expectancy. It is the oldest now and is expected to remain the oldest, with around 35 percent of its population aged 65 or older, in 2050. The important point is that compared to other rich, low-mortality countries, the U.S. is not old now and is expected to age more slowly than the others in the future.









Germany Canada  





5 0  

USA 1950  








Public Education 1



Public Health

Private Education

Private Health Owned Housing 0.5



Private Other


0 0














makes less difference than fertility. To get an idea of their relative roles, let’s think about the so-called Old Age Dependency Ratio (OADR), the ratio of the population 65+ to the population 20-64. (The Committee concluded that treating 65 as the boundary of old age was a mistake, but in some contexts it is hard to avoid using it in this








Public Other 0










way.) The OADR in the U.S. is currently 0.22, with one “older person” for each five or so “working-age” people. The Committee projected that this ratio would rise to 0.39 by 2050, or by 81 percent. The number of working-age people per older person will drop by almost half. Now to get back to immigration, how much would it have to increase in

Chart 1. Life expectancy at birth in selected high income countries, and alternative projections to 2050 for the United States. SSA refers to the 2012 projection by the Social Security Trustees. Tech Panel refers to the Technical Advisory Panel for the Social Security Trustees, which is appointed every four years by the Social Security Advisory Board. Source: This is taken from Figure 3-1 of the prepublication version of the report of the Committee on the Long-Run Macroeconomic Effects of the Aging U.S. Population (2012). Based on United Nations (2011) data. Chart 2. Actual and projected share of the population aged 65+ in a selection of highincome countries, 1950-2050. Source: This is taken from Figure 3-17 of the prepublication version of the report of the Committee on the Long-Run Macroeconomic Effects of the Aging U.S. Population (2012), based on United Nations (2011) data. Chart 3. Consumption by age and by type in the U.S., 1960, 1981, and 2007, measured relative to average labor income for ages 30-49 in each year. Source: This is taken from Figure 3-10 of the prepublication version of the report of the Committee on the Long-Run Macroeconomic Effects of the Aging U.S. Population (2012). Originally from Lee and Donehower, National Transfer Accounts. Right: Robert Lambert, a blind worker at Blind Industries and Services of Maryland, operates the controls of a machine that spreads out fabric to be cut into pieces for military uniforms in Baltimore, Maryland on Friday, Jan. 13, 2012. Each year BISM provides programs and services that serve over 2,000 blind Maryland citizens. Photo: Jay Mallin/Bloomberg via Getty Images

order to reduce the OADR in 2050 from 0.39 to 0.35, or by about 10 percent? The Committee calculated that this would require an average annual increase of 69 percent in the rate of net immigration, meaning there would be nearly 1 million more immigrants every year than there are currently. By contrast, to achieve this reduction through fertility would www.popconnect.org

require that women have an additional 0.5 births, a 25 percent increase in fertility. Neither of these changes seem very likely. Indeed, the Committee concluded that it was almost certain (97.5 percent probability) that the OADR would rise by at least 60 percent by 2050. Population aging is not going to go away. We had better plan for it.

In addition to the aging population, it turns out that our consumption has also been aging in the sense that older people now consume much more relative to younger people than used to be the case. The dramatic changes can be seen in Chart 3, which shows the sum of private consumption by age plus publicly provided in-kind transfers such as health December 2012 — The Reporter 21

A trend toward smaller families in the past few decades has lowered the U.S. fertility rate, contributing to slower population growth and population aging. This page: Pamela Wasserman, Vice President for Population Education, with her husband and son. Opposite: Brian Dixon, Vice President for Media and Government Relations, with his wife and son.

care, education, and long-term care (but not Social Security benefits, which are income and need not be consumed). Compared to a 20-year-old, an 80-yearold consumed twice as much in 2007 as in 1960. Much of this change was due to the growing cost of publicly provided health care, and also growing private health care spending. This increasingly costly consumption by the elderly compounds the economic cost of population aging. Coming back to the OADR, it is based on an arbitrary age boundary of 65, and treats everyone above that boundary as a dependent, and everyone below it as a worker, while of course neither assumption is correct. Another approach is to estimate what the average person consumes at each age, as in Chart 3, and also estimate what the average person earns from work. These age profiles reflect the differences between people, some working in old age and some out of the labor force in their 40s. We can use these age profiles to weight the age distribution of the population, calculating the “effective consumers” and “effective workers” in this way. The ratio of effective workers to effective consumers is the support ratio. As the population ages, there are more people who consume more than they earn, and the support ratio drops. The support ratio is projected to decline by 12 percent between now and 2050, or by about 0.3 percent per year. This means that other things being equal (such as saving rates), consumption will grow 0.3 percent slower than it would otherwise between now and mid-century. If productivity were to grow at 1.5 percent per 22 The Reporter — December 2012

year, for example, consumption would grow at 1.2 percent per year. The decline in the support ratio in the U.S. will be much lower than in most rich countries where declines of 0.6 percent to 0.8 percent per year are common. The support ratio reflects both private and public consumption by age, and its projected decline will be fairly modest. But the costs of population aging are focused on the public sector programs for the elderly like Social Security, Medicare, and institutional Medicaid, which make up just a fraction of the national economy. The impact of aging on these programs will be proportionately much larger. Whether the impact of aging is large or small, it must be born in one way or another. Viewed broadly, there are four options: consume less during the working years and increase savings for old age;

consume less during the working years and pay higher taxes to fund the government transfer programs; reduce public benefits for the elderly; and increase the labor force by delaying retirement or raising the participation of women and other younger people. The task for policymakers is to choose an appropriate mix of these four options. Later retirement would at most be one element among others in a larger policy response. Focusing on later retirement, it is important to consider the health status of the older population. The proportion of the population by age who report themselves to be in very good or excellent health declines strongly with age, and is substantially higher for those with more education. Because enrollment rates increased decades ago, the current proportion of the older population with

more than a high school education has risen steadily, and will more than double between 1985 and 2025, promoting improved health among the elderly. In fact, disability rates at older ages did decline steadily during the 1980s and 1990s, raising the ability of older people to enjoy life and to work. Unfortunately, this trend appears to have flattened over the last decade, and some studies have found rising disability at ages 40 to 64, so the future outlook is uncertain. However, health is not the main limitation on work at older ages. Half of men not working at age 70-74 have no health impairment, and more than half at ages 65-69. So far as health is concerned, labor force participation could be more than half again higher, even for men with no more than high school education. Looking ahead to 2050, a www.popconnect.org

study commissioned by the Committee found very little change in the proportion of the population at ages 20-74 that could work, after taking account of all the expected changes with population aging, increasing educational attainment, increasing proportions Latino, increasing obesity, and so on. Later retirement is definitely an option, although ill health, disability, and shorter lives are more prevalent among those in lower income groups, and their rights and welfare must be protected. Throughout the 20th century, the age at

retirement in the U.S. dropped steadily by more than 10 years, until the 1980s, when it stabilized. Around 1995, however, the age at retirement began to rise, and since then has risen by about 1.5 years for both men and women. Probably the main reason for this increase has been the change in employer-provided pensions from the traditional defined benefit kind to defined contribution, IRA, and Keogh plans. Unlike most defined benefit plans, these others provide no incentives for early retirement, and in addition, they shift investment risk and longevity risk to the individual. December 2012 — The Reporter 23

Right: Dr. Olveen Carrasquillo, Chief of General Internal Medicine, University of Miami, conducts a checkup on Juan Gonzalez at the University of Miami’s Miller School of Medicine. Dr. Carrasquillo said that anyone who wants to roll back the gains made by the overhaul of the health care law should spend one morning in a public hospital. Photo: Joe Raedle/ Getty Images Opposite, top: Women working at a jewelry manufacturing division. Photo: Pavel Losevsky, Dreamstime.com Opposite, bottom: Alejandra Aguilar, Kulsoom Fazal, Karen Rivas, and Elise Rossi, freshman at Northern Virginia Community College, during chemistry lab class. Photo: Bill O’Leary/The Washington Post via Getty Images

Based on legislation from the 1980s, the Social Security full retirement age is already in the process of rising from 65 to 67. If policymakers wished to encourage longer work in other ways, a number of policies have been suggested. One is to introduce a new “paid-up” status for workers who have paid payroll tax for 35 or 40 years. They would not have to pay it on further earnings, which would effectively raise their real wages by 15 percent. Another suggestion is that Medicare be made the primary insurer for workers 65 and over, which would greatly reduce the health insurance costs to employers of older workers. Both these policies would raise the incentives for employers to hire older people, and for older people to continue to work. This would raise GDP, but it would have mixed effects on government costs and revenues with uncertain net fiscal outcomes. One might wonder whether increased labor supply by older workers would take jobs from younger people. The Committee concluded it would not, any more than the enormous expansion of the female labor force since World War II has displaced male workers and raised their unemployment. Various international comparisons and analyses of country case studies support this conclusion, although during a recession the situation is likely different. 24 The Reporter — December 2012

I will summarize more briefly some of the other conclusions of the Committee. One important question is whether an aging labor force will be less productive or less innovative than a younger one. Much uncertainty surrounds this question, but the Committee did not find convincing evidence that this was likely to be a problem. Another important question is how adequately older people have prepared for retirement. Studies have used different concepts of adequacy and different analytic methods to arrive at estimates that between one-fifth and two-thirds of older people have under-saved for retirement. Either way, a substantial number of people is inadequately prepared. These studies all assume that Social Security and Medicare benefits will be paid as scheduled in the future, and due to fiscal pressures, this seems unlikely to be the case. They assume the same about private and public employer-provided

pension plans, many of which are seriously underfunded. For these reasons, the estimates of the proportions with inadequate savings are probably too low. There has been much concern that population aging would lead to a collapse of asset prices and rates of return as older people tried to sell off their assets, or tried to switch out of equities and into bonds. The Committee noted that asset markets are global, other than for housing, and that the global population is aging. They also noted that on the one hand, population aging would boost the accumulation of private wealth and assets, but that it would also tend to drive up government debt, with the net effect unclear. On balance, the Committee expected that there would be little effect of population aging on asset prices and returns. Population aging will exert its greatest

pressure on the public sector, tending to generate progressively larger deficits through the large public transfer programs for the elderly. The public sector is also important because it is through the public programs and taxes that policy can influence retirement age or employers’ demand for older labor, change the relative consumption of the elderly compared to younger age groups, or influence which age groups or generations bear the costs of population aging. It is well known that the biggest fiscal problem is health care spending through Medicare and Medicaid. Population is one factor raising these expenditures, but increased costs per enrolled person are also very important. The future course of these costs per enrollee is uncertain, particularly in the wake of health care reform. Many other uncertainties also cloud projections of government deficits in coming decades. The Committee www.popconnect.org

asked how large an adjustment would be needed to keep the ratio of federal debt to GDP constant at its 2011 level. According to an optimistic scenario, an immediate adjustment maintained every year through 2050 would require 1.1 percent of GDP in reduced benefits or increased taxes. But a pessimistic scenario would require a much larger 4.8 percent of GDP. In both cases, though, the needed adjustment would be much smaller if it were begun immediately rather than waiting another 20 years, at which point the adjustment would have to be larger, by 1.3 to 2.9 percent of GDP.

Population aging will pose economic challenges, particularly for the public sector, but these challenges can be met by a range of policy options that might include increased labor supply by women and older people, in addition to adjustments to savings behavior, taxes, and benefits. We should act sooner rather than later to choose and implement some mix of these broad policy options, both to control the costs of adjustment and to avoid passing most of these costs on to later generations.

December 2012 — The Reporter 25

Washington View

The Election and Why it Matters By Stacie Murphy


he election is over, and family planning supporters across the country—and around the world—have reason to celebrate. The outcome of this election means that millions of women and families, both in the developing world and here in the United States, will not lose their access to vital family planning services. We know now that the Gag Rule will not come back this January, cutting off funding to many of the most effective and experienced family planning providers in the developing world and denying millions of women access to lifesaving reproductive health care. We know that the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) will still receive support from the United States for its work promoting gender equality and universal access to family planning services. And we know that although the long-term budget fight is certainly not over, the outcome of this election makes it far less likely that our bilateral international family planning programs will suffer dramatic cuts. Here at home, we know now that the Affordable Care Act will be fully implemented, expanding access to preventive care and family planning to more women than ever before. The largest legislative victory of President Obama’s first term, 26 The Reporter — December 2012

as well as an enormous part of his ultimate legacy, these new benefits have the potential to revolutionize women’s health care in the United States, dramatically decreasing rates of unintended pregnancy and helping every American woman take control of her fertility and her life. We can also be confident that congressional meddling will not be able to cripple Planned Parenthood, and that the organization will be able to continue reaching out to underserved populations across the country. The results of the election tell us a few other things, as well. We know that although “women’s issues” weren’t the only thing that mattered when Americans went to the polls, they were a crucial part of this election. After a year during which it seemed like you could hardly go a week without hearing about some politician or pundit saying something stupid about women and their bodies, the American public finally had a chance to respond. And just what was that response? Todd Akin, who touched off a firestorm with his comments about pregnancy and “legitimate rape,” lost his race. So did Richard Mourdock, with his pronouncement that rape pregnancies (wait, hasn’t he heard that those are just urban legends?!) are gifts from god. Congressman Joe Walsh insisted that abortion bans with no “life of the

mother” exception are fine because there is no such thing as a truly life-threatening pregnancy (more on that in a moment). His seat went to a pro-choice woman, who beat him by more than nine points. Despite a definite win at the polls, it remains to be seen how much forward progress will be possible over the next two years. Fundamentally, the makeup on Capitol Hill remains the same; family planning supporters are a firm majority in the Senate, while opponents control the House. At a minimum, however, the outcome of the election means that the progress of the last four years will be preserved.

And a Note In Memoriam This column is called Washington View for a reason. We generally focus on the politics and policy of family planning, and we usually don’t stray too far outside of Washington, DC. But in midNovember, a story came out of Ireland that has swept around the world and brought home why the fight for true reproductive freedom still matters everywhere. I want to say something about it, because I think it deserves our attention, and because I think it does tell us something about the nature of the abortion fight in this country.

knowing her much-wanted baby would not live, and pleading with the doctors to finish what her body could not. Finally, once they could no longer detect a fetal heartbeat, the doctors complied. But by then Savita had developed blood poisoning, a known risk of delayed or incomplete miscarriage. She went into multiple organ failure and died a week later.

Savita Halappanavar was a 31-year-old Indian woman living in Ireland with her husband. At 17 weeks pregnant, she began experiencing severe back pain and went to the hospital. Told that she was miscarrying and with no chance for a live birth, Savita, in immense pain, asked her doctors to terminate the pregnancy. Ireland’s notoriously strict abortion laws do have a “life of the mother” exception, but that exception is so unclear that no one really knows which circumstances qualify. In Savita’s case, doctors told her that because her fetus still had a heartbeat and she wasn’t in imminent danger of dying, there was nothing they could do. And so they told her to wait. For three more days, her husband reported, that is what she did: in increasing pain, www.popconnect.org

Her death has sparked outrage around the world and calls for a review of Ireland’s abortion laws. Such a review is past due and would certainly be very welcome. But the fact that someone had to die for it to happen is breathtaking. Thanks to modern medicine, most people in the developed world have come to view pregnancy and childbirth as fundamentally safe activities. And that relative safety means that a lot of people (looking at you, Joe Walsh) discount the importance of access to family planning and abortion services. Savita Halappanavar’s death is shocking because it was utterly preventable. It resonates with those of us who fight abortion restrictions in this country because it demonstrates that the existence of modern medicine isn’t enough to save lives if cultural or legal barriers mean doctors can’t or won’t use it. It is a reminder that without the safety net, pregnancy and childbirth are dangerous.

The women of the developing world have never had the luxury of forgetting this fact. In the developed world as a whole, the lifetime risk of dying in childbirth is 1 in roughly 3,800. In sub-Saharan Africa, it is 1 in 34. In the developing world, pregnancy and childbirth are the number one cause of death for girls between the ages of 15 and 19. Hundreds of millions of women spend their entire lives living with this very real threat hanging over them. And thanks to lack of access to family planning, safe abortion services, and skilled maternity care, way too many of them die. Worldwide, there are more than 287,000 women who die due to pregnancy and childbirth complications every year. They are all real people with families and futures, and their loss is no less tragic for being less reported than Savita’s. Her death is also a reminder that this struggle is about more than tallying victories and defeats. There is a real cost to the dismissive attitudes toward family planning displayed by its opponents. Thoughtless, callous words cost a few politicians their elections. I am deeply heartened by this fact. Not because it changes the win percentage, but because it signals that there is a fundamental awareness among Americans that policy and politics matter because they translate to real human lives saved and lost. December 2012 — The Reporter 27

Field & Outreach

A Frenzy of Fall Grassroots Events By Rebecca Harrington


e spent this fall busily trekking across the country, coordinating a variety of events to reach hundreds of activists throughout the U.S. It was a whirlwind period of travel that allowed us to cement ourselves further into the communities where we work. Given our opponents’ pre-election political rancor toward family planning, it was a particularly apt time to highlight barriers to access. Our first stop was the 4 International EcoSummit, which was held in Columbus, Ohio from September 30 through October 5. The EcoSummit, a gathering of ecologists from 70+ countries around the globe, featured keynote addresses, panel discussions, and poster presentations on a variety of environmental topics. The summit also featured an exhibit hall showcasing nonprofit organizations, eco-businesses, government agencies, and academic institutions. th

Our spot in the exhibition hall gave us the opportunity to speak with several hundred participants about population issues and the criticality of affordable access to family planning for all. Despite the fact that this was a conference about sustainability, there seemed to be very little focus on population. Many conference attendees were frustrated by this and expressed gratitude that we were 28 The Reporter — December 2012

there to give voice to the issue throughout the week. Our next trip took us to Seattle, where we had the opportunity to speak to 21 Environmental Studies students at Seattle University. It is always a pleasure to visit the Seattle U. campus, where we have built strong ties over the past couple of years through students who have attended Capitol Hill Days here in DC. The students were very engaged, asked thoughtful questions, and were eager to learn more about the health, environmental, and social impacts of population growth. The professor appreciated our presentation and was committed to our mission and programming. He will be assisting us with recruitment for the 2013 Capitol Hill Days weekend.

12th & Delaware In mid-October, we returned to Columbus to host a screening and discussion of the documentary 12th & Delaware. The film examines the ongoing tension at an intersection in Fort Pierce, Florida, which houses an abortion clinic on one side of the street and a crisis pregnancy center on the other. Through interviews with the directors of both clinics, as well as footage of them with their patients, the filmmakers highlight the distinct perspectives of each organization. These divergent views

chillingly illustrate the forces that create barriers to reproductive health care in this country. We co-hosted the screening of 12th & Delaware at the Gateway Film Center in Columbus with our long-standing partners at the Columbus International Film and Video Festival, as well as NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio and Women Have Options, the Ohio statewide abortion fund. We were grateful to be joined for the discussion by Ohio State Senator Charleta Tavares. Sen. Tavares talked about all of the progress that has been made on family planning and reproductive health and encouraged audience members to exercise their voting power, to be informed about the views of their elected officials, and to weigh candidates’ positions on family planning before voting. The crowd of nearly 50 was eager to discuss the film, and we were fortunate to have time for many smaller, more personal conversations at the reception following the screening. One audience member, Pat Marida, is a loyal supporter of Population Connection and is also very active with the Sierra Club Central Ohio Group. Pat heavily promoted this event to her local contacts. She described her experience in the following way: “This movie was an eye-opener to the unethical practices of

a real portrayal of how politics manifests at the human level in a small town that could be anywhere in the U.S. The documentary showed both sides to the abortion debate and left it to viewers to decide and form their own opinions. We need more media that provides facts and reality instead of pandering. I appreciated the opportunity to see this documentary in a public setting where we all had the chance to voice our opinions. It was especially beneficial to have a local state senator participate in the discussion! I’m really glad I attended this event.”

‘pregnancy care’ center volunteers, who made empty promises of rent and medical expense payment to deter women from abortions. One obsessed man seemed quite dangerous.” Another participant, Marium Husain, a medical resident at Riverside Methodist Hospital in Columbus and a dedicated supporter of ours, noted, “As heated as this recent political season has been, it’s refreshing to see a movie that provides www.popconnect.org

In early November, we again screened 12th & Delaware, this time at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis. We co-sponsored the event with the school’s Medical Students for Choice (MSFC), a committed group of activists who have been strong partners of ours for several years. Fifty-five students took time from their busy days to join us for a lunchtime viewing and discussion. This screening was particularly insightful for our staff, as the medical students brought their clinical perspectives to the table. The students had strong—and

sometimes vocal—reactions to some of the scenes in the film. The dismayed laughter that erupted when crisis pregnancy center employees were discussing potential health risks of abortion, such as increased risk of breast cancer, confirmed that these employees (who possess no medical training) are either hopelessly misinformed or deliberately misleading their hapless victims. Reflecting on the event, Erin Lips, one of the co-presidents of MSFC, shared the following thoughts: “The screening of 12th & Delaware at the University of Minnesota Medical School was a wellreceived event among students from our class, including many who do not belong to our chapter of Medical Students for Choice. Amid our frequent discussions of medical ethics and culture, which many of us begin to take for granted, some of the conduct at the crisis pregnancy center in the documentary was abrasive and inappropriate. In addition, factual inaccuracies presented by the center via brochures and embryo models were shocking. While there is a great deal of moral battle over abortion care even within the medical field, there is little discussion about the caliber of care at these crisis centers. This film provoked interesting discussion between students about the reality of the abortion battle in the United States and globally.” December 2012 — The Reporter 29

On the Road with PopEd

Our training staff share highlights from the Fall 2012 season


By Pamela Wasserman, Carol Bliese, Lauren Carlson, Lindsey Bailey, and Nate Wallace


all is the busiest season for PopEd, when half of the year’s teacher workshops are presented throughout the country. No two workshops are alike, which always makes it interesting, and every audience brings different perspectives and life experiences to our training events. Our staff has logged many miles in the school year thus far to reach teachers and future teachers from Seattle to Tampa, Buffalo to Dallas, and many points in between. Here are a few of their more memorable moments from their recent road trips.

Carol Bliese Teacher Training Manager

At a recent workshop for graduate teacher candidates at the University of Puget Sound in Tacoma, WA, I shared our dramatic “dot” video that shows population growth from 1 A.D. to the present. As the film neared present day and the dots started flying onto the screen, there were audible gasps, wide staring eyes, and mumblings of “no way” and “I knew we were growing but not that much.” They were hooked. The activity that created the most enthusiasm was “A World of Difference,” a simulation comparing the biodiversity of a temperate forest to that of a tropical rainforest. Using probabilities, participants find the likelihood of various 30 The Reporter — December 2012

species becoming extinct when acres of the respective forests are cleared based on population growth in the region. But before we even got to this step, a teacher raised her hand and commented that, from what we saw in the “dot” video, it looked like there was more rapid population growth in areas of tropical rainforests, and she wondered whether that impacted biodiversity loss. As we moved through the rest of the activity, it became clear that she was on exactly the right track—population is growing faster in parts of the world that have denser biodiversity. By the end of the activity, she told me she was already figuring out where to fit “A World of Difference” into her class syllabus.

Lauren Carlson Education Associate

This fall, my travels took me down south to Alabama. It was my first time visiting the state and I enjoyed meeting people and listening to the different accents and realizing that I, too, have an accent (the locals commented on my upstate New York pronunciations!). One of the memorable workshops that week was an evening session for a small group of future middle and high school teachers at Jacksonville State University. The group was completely engaged and shared plenty of great ideas on how they might stretch concepts and activities further in

their own classrooms and how to localize certain issues. As a facilitator, that’s one of my favorite parts of the job—seeing ideas form and workshop participants become excited to teach our materials. Our cultural exchange extended even beyond the north-south divide. The professor, Dr. Akpan, always brings in chin-chin, a snack from his native Nigeria. At their urging, I sampled chinchin, which tastes like an extremely hard pretzel. It was fun for me to try something new that day, too!

Lindsey Bailey Education Associate

While my presentations are primarily for teachers, I recently had a rare opportunity to work with a group of students in an unlikely school setting—the Norfolk Juvenile Detention Center. It was an experience that I won’t soon forget, but perhaps not for the reasons you may think. When I found out that there would be a security guard in the room at all times during our lesson, and that I would have to lock up all my personal items before entering the classroom, I was a bit anxious about what was in store. However, instead of the tense environment I had anticipated, I was greeted with smiles and “good mornings” from almost every student, and was blown away by the level of engagement and thoughtfulness

during our time together. It was clear that they had great teachers, who had already taught them a bit about complex population issues, but also that the students were enjoying discussing global topics like the economic needs of a growing population, the energy use of developing versus developed regions of the world, and global wealth distribution. It was really inspiring to see a group of kids, who have clearly been through a lot in their young lives, being excited to discuss issues that reach far beyond the walls of their detention center. It was a glimpse into the end result of our work (the impact on students), and a reminder that we need to be reaching young people in every setting possible. After all, population issues will impact all of their lives. Each and every young person has the potential to get informed and get involved for the greater good.

Nate Wallace PopEd Fellow

I have only been with PopEd for a short while, but have already racked up some valuable teaching experiences. The first workshop I attended was at Maryland’s Towson University. With a bit of anxiety, I watched Carol present, frantically writing down all of the statistics and hilarious jokes she used on a sheet of paper. And then I lost the sheet of paper. A few weeks later, we traveled south to www.popconnect.org

the University of Virginia, where I again played the role of the silent sidekick, soaking in what I could before my first solo presentation. That would finally come the next day at Virginia State University, and after exhausting Carol with questions like “What year did we reach one billion again?” and “What’s the GDP of Africa?” I felt ready. Since those first shaky attempts, I’ve had the opportunity to hone my skills presenting to education classes in Texas, Delaware, and Pennsylvania. In all these places, I’ve met some fantastic professors and future teachers. It’s been a great experience so far, and I hope to have many more with Population Connection!

PopEd staff take in the local sites in Salem, Massachusetts before facilitating the New England Leadership Institute in July. From left: Lindsey, Lauren, Nate, and Carol.

Population Connection’s Education Program is the only national population education program with a strong emphasis on teacher training for educators of grades pre-K through 12. Since 1975, the program has developed ageappropriate curricula to complement students’ science and social science instruction about human population trends and their impacts on natural resources, environmental quality, and human wellbeing. We provide hands-on training to over 11,000 teachers and student teachers annually in North America. Tens of thousands of teachers are introducing important population concepts to 3 million students a year.

December 2012 — The Reporter 31


32 The Reporter — December 2012

Editorial Excerpts

The Daily Yomiuri St. Louis, Missouri

Tokyo, Japan

A five-year study in St. Louis, in which more than 9,250 women ages 14 to 45 were given free birth control options and family planning education, showed that women who have access to affordable contraception rarely have unintended pregnancies.

With many baby boomers turning 65 this year, the number of Japanese aged 65 or older has topped 30 million for the first time, accounting for 24 percent of the population.

Since women who don’t have unplanned pregnancies generally don’t get abortions, the abortion rate in the St. Louis area declined more than 20 percent from 2008 to 2010, coinciding with the study. Equally striking was the impact that free birth control had on teenage pregnancy. While the national number of births to teens is 34.3 per 1,000 girls, it was only 6.3 [births] for every thousand teenage participants in the study, which was called the Contraceptive Choice Project. The Washington University contraception project showed that after women were educated about different types of birth control, three-quarters of them chose implantable methods. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists says that long-acting and reversible birth control options, such as intrauterine devices and under-the-skin implants, are the most effective. Missouri legislators need to help women prevent unintended pregnancies and abortions regardless of what their views are on abortion. And they need to do it now. —October 8, 2012

Society as a whole must quickly make preparations to cope with the population’s ever-accelerating pace of aging. Many people in their golden years are willing to work. A Cabinet Office survey found that more than 70 percent of men and women aged 60 or older want to work even after turning 65. If elderly people can work and increase their income, consumption and tax revenues will increase. This would not only help rejuvenate the economy but also secure financial sources for social security programs. While the elderly population will increase, people of working age will continue decreasing in step with the declining birth rate. At present, there are about three people of working age to support each elderly person; this figure is forecast to fall to about one 50 years from now. It is obvious that the current social security system will not be able to withstand such developments. Each and every member of Japanese society needs to consider how they should live a life lasting 90 years, so they can support themselves as much as possible even when they reach an advanced age. —October 2, 2012


December 2012 — The Reporter 33

Population Connection 2120 L Street, NW, Suite 500 Washington, DC 20037


Your legacy...people and the planet in balance

Have you considered leaving a legacy gift ensuring that your commitment to zero population growth continues well into the future? By remembering Population Connection in your will or estate plan, you can make a meaningful contribution to stabilizing population and improving the quality of life for everyone, everywhere. We also offer charitable gift annuities, which provide guaranteed life income and significant tax advantages. We are proud to honor our legacy donors as members of The ZPG Society. For more information, please contact Shauna Scherer, Director of Development, at sscherer@popconnect.org or (202) 974-7730. Population Connection members Katharine and Julian Donahue, visiting Iguazu Falls in Brazil.

If you’ve already included Zero Population Growth (ZPG) in your estate plans, there is no need to change any language. We proudly maintain the name and the mission.

34 The Reporter — December 2012

Profile for Marian Starkey

The Reporter, December 2012  

Aging and the U.S. Economy

The Reporter, December 2012  

Aging and the U.S. Economy