The Financial Time Bomb of Longer Lives
OCT. 16, 2010
FIRST the good news: We’re living longer, healthier lives than ever before.
We’re already so used to the idea of greater longevity, in fact, that it may seem ho-hum to learn that boys and girls born in 2008 in the United States have life expectancies of 75 and 81, respectively.
Those life spans, however, represent a bonus of about three decades, compared with Americans born in 1900, according to a report last year from the Census Bureau. And, by the way, Spain, Greece and Austria fared even better, proportionally: Life expectancies in those countries doubled over the course of the 20th century.
Now for the bad news: At this rate, we can’t afford to live so long.
And by “we,” I don’t just mean you, me and our often insufficient long-term-care insurance policies. I mean “we the people.” I mean the bureaucratic “we.”
For the first time in human history, people aged 65 and over are about to outnumber children under 5. In many countries, older people entitled to government-funded pensions, health services and long-term care will soon outnumber the work force whose taxes help finance those benefits. This demographic shift also means that the number of people living with dementia, whose treatment is estimated to cost $604 billion worldwide this year, is expected to more than triple, to 115 million, by 2050, according to a report this year by Alzheimer’s Disease International, a group representing 73 Alzheimer’s associations around the world.
Continue reading here: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/10/17/business/17stream.html?_r=0