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Australia’s Long View of the Aging Dilemma

Author: Michael W. Hodin, Adjunct Senior Fellow
August 11, 2011
The Fiscal Times

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As Americans continue the wrangling over deficits and budgets, and as the Europeans add another country to the seemingly endless list of fiscal failures, Australians are taking the long view on the common driver of fiscal messes: They're preparing for a tsunami of older citizens.  If only the other developed countries were as progressive. The Australians recognize that economic success in the coming decades will hinge on how they deal with aging populations that shortly will comprise a stunning one quarter of their overall population.

It's also noteworthy that it is precisely in the economic and fiscal context of a “Productivity Commission” that the Australian government has reported on the viability of their “aged care system.” The report focuses on “the well being of older Australians — promoting their independence, giving them choice and retaining their community engagement.” Prime Minister Julia Gillard has announced her support.

The Productivity Commission's report offers insights into care of the aging. It says that the next generation of seniors wants more choices and greater flexibility in the type of care they receive. With longer lives, this conclusion makes sense. Boomers — and their peers around the world — are not aging like their parents, and the traditional model of “aged care” and “retirement homes” will need to be transformed to allow for unhindered access to participation in social and economic life.

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