Monday, April 12, 2010

The New Age of Dinosaurs?

Guambat is unabashedly, immutably Old School. Old, like in dinosaur.

It's bound to be a coincidence, but Guambat got tipped by Barry Ritholtz to this article about aging in Japan, specifically, and aging globally more generally. It's a coincidence because Guambat has been getting a few (very few) hits from his recent post about the aging of Japan, which he modestly let drop in a comment to one of Barry's recent posts.

Anyway, this is the story:

The shock of the old: Welcome to the elderly age
The land of the rising sun has become the land of the setting sun with staggering speed. As recently as 1984, Japan had the youngest population in the developed world, but by 2005 it had become the world's most elderly country. Soon it will become the first country where most people are over 50 years old.

Homo sapiens is ageing fast, and the implications of this may overwhelm all other factors shaping the species over the coming decades - with more wrinklies than pimplies, more walking frames than bike stabilisers, more slippers and pipes than bootees and buggies, and more grey power than student power. The longevity revolution affects every country, every community and almost every household. It promises to restructure the economy, reshape the family, redefine politics and even rearrange the geopolitical order over the coming century.

The cultural historian Theodore Roszak at California State University, East Bay, once took me to task over an article on the threat of ageing societies: "Ageing," he wrote, "is the best thing that has happened in the modern world, a cultural and ethical shift that looks a lot like sanity." [Guambat wonders how old this Roszak guy is. Guambat's generation was never shy about "talkin' 'bout my generation".]

At 50, we do not expect to act or feel as we did at 20 - nor at 80 as we did at 50. The same is true of societies. What will it be like to live in societies that are much older than any we have known? We are going to find out, because the ageing of the human race is one of the surest predictions of this century.

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