The Impact of Ageing on Public Policy
Observer 203, December 1996/January 1997
The assumptions about the composition of society which underlie much public policy have been undermined by a trend towards older populations and by changes in living patterns. The repercussions are likely to be substantial.
Public policies in OECD countries still largely assume that people pass through three quite separate stages of life. Education is almost exclusively for the young. Pensions provide a separate stream of secure incomes for older people. In the middle years, there are stable jobs and families, with social-security programmes for the exceptional periods when these supports are missing. The time spent in initial schooling and, especially, retirement is assumed to be short compared with the amount of time spent in paid work, at least for men. The economic relations between generations are assumed to be limited to those that bind parents and children. The age structure of the population is generally held to resemble a pyramid, with many people in younger age-groups at the base supporting the increasingly fewer people in older cohorts.To read the full article, download the PDF file below.