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Thursday, January 06, 2011

As Boomer Wrinkle


Somebody at the Economist must have said: “about time we did the age thing again” since it has another article, this time about the impact of Boomer Wrinklies. Sorry, the Economist is subscription only.

The Economist reckons that retiring Boomers will squeeze the economy from two directions. The article is written from the context of the US, but the same principles apply to Europe. The cost of the two main government funded services (Medicare and Social Security) will jump from 8.4% of GDP in 2010 to 11.2% by 2030. That may only be 2.8% but it represents a big pile of cash, especially since the US already has to borrow to pay the existing costs.

Meanwhile, as Boomers retire, the workforce will grow more slowly, as will the taxes to finance their benefits.

The Economist can rarely be accused of hyperbole but it reckons that:” The pensioner-worker imbalance and health-care inflation, which is driving up the bill for Medicare and Medicaid, will send the budget deficit into the stratosphere.”

Now this is all very interesting but what is the really the big unanswered question is how government policy will respond to these challenges and keep onside the 65+ voter, who will rise from 17% of the voting-age population to 26%. Now combine this with what looks like a definite trend for older people to vote Republican and you have an interesting combination.

Somehow I cannot see all of this leading to an improvement in intergenerational relations. Dick Stroud

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