A Closer Look

Increase in Life Expectancy – The greatest cultural and scientific advances in our history or a crisis ?

A demographic tool has become an economic one, treating a demographic challenge as both an economic crisis and a basis for pessimism justifying drastic reductions in bedrock Capture d’écran 2014-06-25 à 09.46.22government programs, including those supporting children and the poor. Even at state and local levels, the aging boomer demographic is repeatedly blamed for our economic difficulties. That is a lamentable mistake. The United States has serious economic problems, and the aging population poses significant challenges, but those challenges are not the main cause of the problems. They should not be treated that way.

The dependency ratio does not justify the solutions that the alarmists propose. Just as important, perhaps, it fails to account for the striking benefits accruing from the dramatic increase in life expectancy in the United States during the 20th century—what the MacArthur Foundation’s Research Network on an Aging Society called “one of the greatest cultural and scientific advances in our history.”

Chosen excerpts by Job Market Monitor. Read the whole story at The American Scholar: The Fear Factor – Lincoln Caplan.

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