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The Economic Promise of Aging Populations

Author: Michael W. Hodin, Adjunct Senior Fellow
November 3, 2011
The Fiscal Times

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Just days ago, European leaders finally agreed on their “comprehensive” deal that would slash Greece's debt and preserve the Euro – and already there seem to be doubts. Initial market euphoria has given way to second thoughts. As essential as the deal was, it's still only short-term crisis management. As the Economist has pointed out, the deal will only “buy time before the next round of panic. At worst, it may push the euro zone into catastrophe.”

It's a good point, but there's a more important one: Where are the policies that will produce growth? Managing the financial meltdown seems to have precluded leaders from also addressing the longer-term underlying structural drivers of demographic change and the dependency models we now have for aging populations.

It's time to turn this dependence into economic participation. A huge and growing demographic slice of all G-20 nations cannot be economically ignored. Though the financial markets felt assured at least for a day by the agreements last week, the long-term outlook remains the same. If the Europeans can't create mechanisms to integrate aging populations into their economic life, then the positive effects of this latest deal will evaporate like the others. The same is true for us here in the U.S., as highlighted by the Fed's November 2 assessment that we have entered a new “non-growth” period.

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