“Growth won’t save us – there won’t be any”

Merryn.pngMerryn Somerset Webb, editor-in-chief of Money Week and also a Financial Times columnist, has devoted her latest post to the implications of the ageing Western population:

“I can’t be sure of much about next year. But here’s one fact you can’t argue with: 2013 will be the year that we get old.

“How’s that? 2013, as Paul Hodges of International eChem (IeC) points out to me, will be the year in which the average UK ‘baby boomer’ (born in 1958) turns 55. At any other previous time in history, the average person would have been dead by now (even in 1900 UK life expectancy was only 50).

“This lot however, in the main, are looking at another 25 years before they even start to worry about choosing a nursing home, let alone thinking about death: the latest census showed us that the over 85s are the fastest growing group in our population, and that the modal age of death (that at which death is most common) is 85 for men and 89 for women. We now have the oldest population in history, with our baby boomers making up a massively influential group of what Hodges calls the ‘new old’ (those 55 and over).

“You might think this is of little relevance to the things you are currently worrying about for 2013 -the collapse of the euro; the slightly nuts behaviour of our inflation seeking central bankers; the chance that a newly nationalistic Japan might amuse itself teasing China; the end of trail commission payments to IFAs; the UK’s credit rating; fracking and earthquakes; the fact that Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah is uncomfortably past the modal age of death; and so on. But it is in many ways almost the only relevant bit of information you need to know to see what is going on in the West today. ”

Please click here if you would like to read the full post, which also links to the blog’s Research Note on the implications for the US economy.

About Paul Hodges

Paul Hodges is Chairman of International eChem, trusted commercial advisers to the global chemical industry. The aim of this blog is to share ideas about the influences that may shape the chemical industry over the next 12 – 18 months. It will try to look behind today’s headlines, to understand what may happen next in important issues such oil prices, economic growth and the environment. We may also have some fun, investigating a few of the more offbeat events that take place from time to time. Please do join me and share your thoughts. Between us, we will hopefully develop useful insights into the key factors that will drive the industry's future performance.

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