Population aging in the US is a basic demographic phenomenon that is determined by the age distribution of a population and its history of births, age-specific deaths and the rate of migration. Over the last decade, the US demographics have significantly changed with most people growing older. Consequently, the sequence has been described to have significant implications for the nations’ economic, health and social institutions. The US population distribution has rapidly shifted in both the number and proportion. However, unlike the 1900s when population growth was on the rapid increase, the past decade has witnessed slowed population growth due to a significant decrease in fertility rates. What more, there was an increased rate of growth in the population of older adults above 65 years than the rest of the population. At birth, there is a small excess of males, but owing to the increased death rates of the male population and substantial improvements in women mortality, there seems to be an excess of women in the older ages. Therefore, the sex ratio in the US declines drastically with increase in age. This study aims to analyze the implications of an aging population on social and economic welfare in the U.S.A.
The drop in the immigration numbers reflects a smaller share of U.S population growth rate that has adverse effects on the economic productivity of the country. More so, the decline in population growths has been associated with the loss of jobs in manufacturing and constructions, and other occupations that are filled by immigrants. However, the recent advancements in automation and mechanization have replaced some of the human labor that may result in increased production despite the loss of human labor. Consequently, the U.S will have to make many changes to their systems or face increased social costs to cater to the aging populations or slower economic growth rates. One of the most evident economic implication of the aging population is that it will strain the available resources such as pension systems and insurance programs. Moreover, due to the reduced immunity of the aging populations, many are likely to suffer from chronic illnesses which will lead to increased demand for health services.
Notably, the U.S will have to raise its budget allocations for social security. Due to the population growth decrease, the number of contributions to social security will significantly decrease as more funds are channeled to the aging and retired population. To achieve fiscal sustainability in the US, public pension programs will need significant alterations in the coming decades. Otherwise, if the public pensions remain as currently constituted, the younger working generation may have to remit over 20 % of their incomes to the pension schemes will significantly reduce the disposable incomes which, subsequently affects the rate of investments in the country. This means that there will be decreased economic growth and the majority of the younger workforce will be demoralized due to the extensive fiscal pressure to sustaining the aging population (Hobbs, Frank, and Nicole 56). Consequently, this will also discourage foreign direct investments resulting in mass unemployment.
The declining number of younger workers pose a significant challenge for the U.S pension schemes because it results to lower funds being contributed and necessitating an increased return for their investments. The costs of healthcare is another profound economic implication of an aging population because as the population ages, their health declines. In turn, the decline in health requires higher medical attention for physical therapy, prescription medicine, and doctor visits among others. For example, there is a higher prevalence rate of cancers and cardiovascular problems in the aging populations compared to the younger generations in the U.S. Consequently, public health expenditures will rise significantly, which means that the US must invest more human resources and funds into providing health care.
To curb the problems of an aging population in the U.S, I think there is a need for restructuring the immigration systems and laws. Fundamental changes to the structure of the prevailing immigration laws are needed. Additionally, the impact of automation and artificial intelligence could be accelerated to take more places that were initially taken by human labor. First, the U.S policymakers should also consider enacting some strategies such a gradual retirement scheme that allows older workers to lower their working hours and remain in the workforce as opposed to being totally out of the job. This strategy will allow them to also pay taxes until a later age when one is considered totally unproductive. Secondly, the US should allow for furnishing options that reward volunteers and caregivers among the older populations. By encouraging the older employees to remain in the workforce longer can reduce the fiscal pressure and macroeconomic challenges related to population aging.
By providing the aging populations with an opportunity to serve in the workforce much longer, the US government can significantly gain in the provision of both economic and social benefits and relieve some of the fiscal pressure related to aging populations. However, policies should be developed in ways that recognize the autonomy and dignity of the older populations because work activities for the older adults do not automatically translate into social welfare progress.
Hobbs, Frank, and Nicole Stoops. Demographic trends in the 20th century. Vol. 4. US Census Bureau, 2002.
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