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Skip to 0 minutes and 4 seconds This is particularly important and even problematic in the more advanced economies on this planet, not the least of which, western Europe. Back in 2010, the first time ever as far as we know anywhere in the world, something rather remarkable happened in Europe. Namely, then and since then, there have been more elderly people than there are children. Now the reasons behind this are probably not as important at this stage. Suffice to say that in places like Europe, thanks to much better health care, improving health care, we do find people living much longer, way beyond the age of 65, which always used to be for many people, almost maximum life expectancy.

Skip to 0 minutes and 48 seconds Now we’re looking at late 70s, early 80s, and as the years go by, throughout the course of this century, a gradual further increase in life expectancy. It wouldn’t be too surprising if by the end of the 21st century in some countries, life expectancy might be approaching 90, 95, even 100 years. So there’s the phenomenon. There’s the change. Once again as futurists, we take note of that. We don’t predict it. We take note of the possibility and ask ourselves, so what? What does this imply? What does it mean? And there are many implications. One or two include the following.

Skip to 1 minute and 25 seconds In Europe, with more and more people reaching and exceeding the age of 65 and yet fewer and fewer children, that’s bound to be putting pressure on taxpayers, a shrinking number of taxpayers, supporting emotionally and financially, a growing number of elderly people. One of the very obvious indications– we see signs already– is that retirement age is going to be revisited. And for many people in Europe as the years go by, retiring at 65 will probably be virtually impossible. More and more people are discovering in Europe and elsewhere in the world that they’re going to be able to afford to retire seven years after they die, which obviously is stupid.

Skip to 2 minutes and 8 seconds But I’m trying to make a point that you won’t be able to retire at 65. You won’t be able to afford to retire at the age of 65. Another implication is that Europe is importing more and more skilled workers from elsewhere in the world– younger skilled workers from elsewhere in the world. And that elsewhere of course includes Africa. So one of the reactions to aging in Europe is that younger skilled workers from Africa are leaving our shores, which makes financial sense, makes economic sense. But it does leave a vacuum back here in Africa. As we all know, Africa does have a shortage of skilled workers. Now, that shortage might be aggravated by ageing in Europe.

People living longer

In the next video, we are going to discuss why people are living longer and how this is having a profound effect on the population as well as on the world of economics.

As a self assessment, do some research about why this is happening and how it is affecting the world today before playing this video.

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This video is from the free online course:

Futurism and Business: Dealing with Complexity

University of Stellenbosch Business School Executive Development