FRIDAY, 13 MAY 2011

Youth are no Longer the Future

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Happy Friday everyone! I don’t know about you, but I am ready for the weekend after a long and eventful week. On cue the weather is set to turn for the worse tomorrow and Sunday after a sunny end to the working week here. There really is truth to the old joke, “What do you call the day after two days of rain in Auckland?” “Monday”. Thank you, thank you, I’m here all night, try the veal. Don’t forget to tip your waitress. Or, even better, subscribe to this fine website! 

A couple of pieces today to mull over this weekend – both about getting old. Here in Aotearoa, Statistics NZ has just released figures showing that the number of us over 85 has trebled in the past 30 years.  One out of every 60 New Zealanders is now over 86, compared with one in 150 in 1981.  The median age is up 2.2 years on a decade ago and is expected to reach 43.5 years in 2061. Hopefully by 2061 I will be one of those pulling that median age upwards and will have 85 in my medium-term sights.

And hopefully by 2061 I will still be on course to emulate this growing number of high achievers in the US. The number of centenarians in the US has roughly doubled in the past 20 years.  Apparently there are now 72,000 US citizens who, if it wasn’t for 1776, would have received a congratulatory telegraph from Her Majesty.  (Does anyone know if the late Queen Mother got a telegraph from her daughter when she hit 100? That question has always interested me…) By 2050 the number of those in the US who have notched up tons is expected to grow to anything from between 265,000 and 4.3 million! This increase over the past 20 years is not just due to a growing population – they are also a larger chunk of the population, growing from 15 per 100,000 in 1990 to 23 per 100,000 today.

If you do end up achieving this no mean feat yourself apparently you will probably exhibit the following traits:

- A positive but realistic attitude;

- A love of life and sense of humour;

- Spirituality;

- Courage; and

- A remarkable ability to accept the losses that come with age but not be stopped by them.

How many of these traits do you have right now? If you want to hit 100 then perhaps you need to start developing some of the above areas that you are lacking in.  But whether we get there or not, we all need to realise that the population is getting older and that it is expected to do so for a long time yet.  Maybe it’s time to invest in mobility scooter manufacturers...


MORE ON THESE TOPICS | ageing, centenarian, New Zealand, US

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Welcome to Demography Is Destiny. We launched this to counter two media memes: that humans are a cancer which is destroying our planet and that world population is spiralling to unsustainable levels. The real story is that intelligent and inventive humans will rise to the challenge of climate change and that our real problem is the coming demographic winter. The editors of Demography is Destiny are Marcus and Shannon Roberts, who live in Auckland, New Zealand. Send them your comments and suggestions. 

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