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Aging is becoming a major problem in many developed countries around the world. Basically the problem comes about due to good medical services and such amenities result in the population which is healthy and these results in a long life expectancy. Due to the thriving economy majority of the population is working class, this combined with being busy and most concentrating on their careers and not wanting to settle down and have children results to a low birth rate or it maybe cause of a decrease in death rate both at infancy and grown adults resulting in a population boom. After a couple of years this becomes a problem because the result is majority of the population becomes the older generation and younger generation becomes thinner with each day (Population Action International, 2009). In the end an economy will be choked to decline because it will be left with an ageing population to care for while at the same time lack enough human resource or working force to support them and at the same time support a thriving economy this in long term can lead to serious decline of a nation. This presents a detailed discussion of aging problems in Europe but with particular focus on Germany Italy and France. The paper also explores the causes of increasing older people within the countries and the social welfare systems within the countries.
Sudnik (2009) observes that in Europe this is one of the major problems they are trying to tackle because averagely in the union the working hours per capita is around 35 hours and with increased periods for leaves and a generation that targets early retirement can result in an economy that is suffering from acute labor force deficiency or lack of enough labor force to drive itself forward leading to a decline or stagnation of an economy. Studies reveal that in most cities in Europe the birthrate is much smaller than the death rate; this signifies a shrinking population which in a period of about 40-50 years will result in the population in Europe shrinking by about 10% and will also result in the productivity of the EU in relation to contribution to the global economy drop by almost half and if these forecasts are true then the planners will have an enormous task at their disposal as they try to reverse this tendency before it out gets out of hand.
AGING PROBLEMS IN GERMANY
Population Action International (2009) states that Germany is the one of the countries with the highest population in western side of Europe but with one of the lowest fertility rates anywhere in the world. This is going to automatically result in a low birth in the country leading to a decline in population after a few generations. And unless the immigration rate increases annually then its one of the countries that's going to have a major effect due to the problem as at now most of the population is made up of older people who in a few years will need to be looked after and with no one to do that this is going to seriously incapacitate the economy (Sudnik, 2009).
Another reason for the low birth rate is most couples tend to settle down when for example the man is already over 50 years old and they tend tom have low sexual drive which can also impede the rate of conceiving among couples of this age while most people are either married or engaged most women have a tendency to use contraceptives frequently and this could result in a low birth rate despite the fertility rate of the same women (Eric's World, 2010). And another fact is many Germans are leaving their homeland to other parts of the world and with its low immigration rate its clearly going to be crippled by the increased resources diverted to caring for a majority old age society. So unless the government manages the women who are fertile to give birth to more children the country has a pending economic disaster waiting for them.
Eric's World (2010) asserts that another indicant were that the learned a woman is in Germany the less likely they are to have kids like women from west Germany who are highly learned had less children than the ordinary woman. This is leading to the government trying to turn the nation into a more family like nation hence to attract immigrants which it isn't due to immigrants facing a lot of prejudice and other forms of stigma and try and make people build families through good healthcare systems. As the population ages fast the males tend to be less in number is comparison to the females. Also due to enough exposure on sex and birth control where teenagers are taught about some of the issues in society , teenage pregnancy in German is very low in comparison to other countries which though shouldn't be advocated could increase birth rate in the country.
Welfare system in Germany
The system in this country is subdivided into three categories while catering for all situations. The first one caters for the loss of income or sometimes the expenditures that are accidental or illness but cost a lot, like for example when you grow very old or become disabled or in some cases unemployment as the country has a high unemployment rate. The second one is the usual like any other country where people contribute to the other social requirements like medical insurance and the pension scheme of which any working individual is obligated to do and this includes other kinds of benefits depending on the individual requirement and this can in handy when dealing with compensation especially issues that affect socially as a whole and this includes education funds for children and others that include house funding scheme (Population Action International, 2009). The final scheme is one that caters for those who are unable to pay the other two schemes hence unable to sustain a good life like people who are too old to work and their pension too little to support them or the mentally handicapped who cant fend for themselves and the assistance can be presented in various ways for example in can be given to cater for housing, for food or medical care.
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Hence with the aging problem in the country and with time the number of people contributing to the first two schemes will decrease leading to the government sometimes needing to add to the social coffers and this will add to strain the government spending. At the same time the percentage or number of people depending on the third scheme which is more of aid will dramatically rise as most people will be of old age and on pension hence will require some kind of aid. This will put pressure and decrease the amount set aside for such causes and with the dwindling resource from the other two coffers the government will have to allocate more resources from its budget hence straining it and this will eventually affect the economy as the productivity will reduce while the expenditure continues to rise sharply (The Age Company, 2004).
Retirement rate in Germany
Most people in Germany are trying to retire early, and the basic retirement age for people in public service in Germany Is around 63 years. For one to retire you have to calculate the amount if money required to fund your pension scheme and if this is to be achieved one has to save a certain percentage of money ton achieve this and increase the percentage if you want to retire early. But with the aging problem the government was thinking of raising the basic age limit for retirement to 67 years. By doing this the government is trying to increase the people contributing into social funds and reducing the number who are dependent on the same (Population Action International, 2009).
So as to curb the aging problem the government needs to introduce some perks for like families with children by granting leaves for the same while being relieved some responsibilities like paying some of the social schemes by governments chipping in. This can encourage people to settle and children while at the same time the introduction of programs like encouraging young people to concentrate on as much families as much as their careers. And stress on the same in becoming successful rather than just on the career. By doing this what can be achieved is a nation full of people with careers and families and with such responsibilities early retirement for most may not be an option while at the same time instilling the need to have children and families and in the long run it will help in eliminating the aging problems as new generations will emerge (The Age Company, 2004).
Through this a co-relation will or is established where the working class take care of the elderly indirectly through contributing to the social schemes that will be used in the taking care of the elderly when they are too old to fend for themselves.
AGING PROBLEM IN ITALY
Italy is another country suffering from these where its birth rate is half the death rate. In some areas its characterized by empty playgrounds and parks where the children are not there or are scarce so they don't normally go to the parks and its like its become reverse and the same place is now meant for the elderly. The same can be even reflected in the nation's leadership where most of their national leaders are quite old and almost seventy which is a sharp contrast to other countries in the western world where majority of leaders are quite young (The Age Company, 2004). And to make it worse some efforts by the government to encourage a high birth rate by giving incentives like cash which was introduced due to low very low fertility have since failed. As far as immigration kind of make up for this some incidents like racism and discrimination are also hampering such options. By offering some of these additions the government is trying to encourage or increase the fertility rate and help solve the aging issue.
Welfare system in Italy
The country has introduced a welfare system which caters for universal health care for all though the contributions per month are steep it, has proved a major success. This with a complicated pension scheme of pay as you earn makes up the Italian welfare scheme although there are private schemes which are for the elite and more expensive (Eric's World, 2010). At the same time the government has tried to eradicate unemployment by introducing some cash handouts for the unemployed and by this leveling thing out. While giving out these handouts, there things put into consideration like family size hence the larger the family the bigger the handout. Another way to tackle the aging problem is maternity leaves are long, while the social need s are provided to the needy or the very elderly who can't fend for themselves.
Retirement age in Italy
The country has since raised its retirement age to 65 years old due the rapid ageing population which will result in lack of work labor as most will be retired and this may increase the number of people dependent on government payouts which will definitely affect the economy. By this it will reduce the ageing effect which creates loss of labor as most of the older generation will still be at work. While reducing the government expenditure on cash handouts or the money spent on social work of caring for the elderly (The Age Company, 2004).
AGEING IN FRANCE
In this country, it has one of the highest birth rates in Europe. And if the trend continues then it's going to have one of the youngest populations in the Europe. But for now France faces a big deficit in pension budget as the numbers are increasing rapidly prompting the government to put a mandatory retirement age of 60 years old which has since been raised to 62. And some reforms have been brought about that bear the burden for workers as they are deducted more to effect the deficits.
Welfare system in France (Sudnik, 2009).
The welfare in this country is based on a system that involves pension, the other services like health care and family. The system is in such a manner a worker continually pays into the scheme and it caters for the above services or in a case where he/she doesn't have a job so it assists in meeting the needs depending on the services the person requires.
Retirement in France
The age has since been increased to 62 by the government and this is as a result of increase retirees who benefit on the scheme set up by the government and this was straining the scheme as the dependants are almost exceeding those who are paying into the scheme and this has resulted in some changes that were not taken well by workers as thy feel over burdened (The Age Company, 2004).
PROBLEMS WITH THE ELDERLY IN THE U.S.A
Stibich (2009) points out that the number of elderly people in the US is rising slowly and in about two decades its predicted to rise to over 20% of the population. This is a large number considering the amount of pressure it exacts in the state economically as they are not productive. This is a result of better health care hence increasing the life expectancy which has risen to over 70 years for most individuals. This means double the resources employed now will be used in caring for them as the work force will also increase. All this will be supported by the social care which all citizens contribute to in other words to avoid these either the age of retirement will have to rise to increase work force or the fertility rate to go high (Stibich, 2009). This maybe accelerated easily if the women now are after more of success hence prefer to have less and less babies which will result in a low birth rate despite a high fertility rate resulting in the aging problem deepening even more and this will mean that the elders will be more that children under fifteen years old. And this will easily result in a population where the elderly who need to be cared for are more than the younger generation. The end result will mean either the nation will import manpower or labor for the same or there will be an acute shortage in staff.
All the countries above the problem might not be very visible now but in a few years its toll will begin to appear and with no action the result would be devastating. So some steps should be put in place to curb the aging effects or we may end up seeing the collapse or decline of these economic giants duel inadequate labor to drive the economies.