Friday, April 17, 2009

Ageing Britain

Population dynamics fascinate me. It is like waiting for an accident to happen. The UK is undergoing a dramatic transformation and we are simply not ready for it. Most people aren't even aware of the extraordinary ageing of the UK population that is now underway.

Take for example, citizens over 90; there has been a three-fold increase since 1971. The number is likely to triple again by 2031. Over-90s incur major medical costs. While we might be able to delay the retirement age by a couple of years, the typical 90 year-old is extremely unlikely to be a financially self-supporting member of the community.

I keep asking one question; who will pay for all those pensions?


  1. You were the one who was upset at the NHS and British society in general for their tendency to ignore death of elderly in nursing homes to Clostridium Difficile diarrhea?

    I completely understand a frustration at the loss of human life from preventable causes, yet you have not satisfactorily explained to me ANY awareness towards your own cognitive dissonance on this issue.

    Death is part of life, I think we can all agree on this. When are we going to prevent death? How much of our resources will we use to prevent it? When is the tragedy towards an individual very real yet necessary for the "protection" of collective resources for other purposes (such as childcare, healthcare for others, defense of the nation, legal protections, research and development, etc...)????????????

    Are you saying you have found a solution that is both pleasant and undiscovered by all other people who have looked at this issue in medicine since the beginning of time (yet haven't posted it)?

    Or are you saying those who find UGLY solutions (thru negligence or ignoring that which they should not ignore deliberately or unintentionally), are bad ugly people because they are caught up in the ugly solution that no one has ever found a superior/less ugly alternative?

    You do need to explain your own cognitive dissonance on this issue if you are to remain intellectually honest- of course most people have no trouble being intellectually dishonest so you would remain in good company.


  2. Younger people still living with their parents will, out of their taxes, which are being used to prop up the house prices of the older people etc (which ties in with your two previous posts on the topic).

  3. A link fwiw.

    If you read outside the econ world, such as what physicians say to each other, you would see we long ago realized this dilemma you now recognize (like a few thousand years ago).

    And by the way, I am sure you realize you could pay for all those pensions if you let them have their health care dollars in the for of pensions. Only they wouldn't get anything to spend on health care IF they did that. Or you could do it with legal protections or any other pocket of money you want to raid

    Most of us in medicine, and your NHS and NICE is particular, understand this very very very.

    How do you want to use your resources as a society over there in Britian???

    It is sometimes a little sad for me to read the posts of an economist who lives in the first nation on earth that really tried to address these issue in as "pleasant" and "fair" a method as possible can be done, and not recognize what they were able to accomplish.

    No other group of people on this planet ever come together to create such a fair system as you have, ever.

    It seems that cooperative "fair play" spirit simply needs to be re-channeled into the nest issue: total resource utilization.

    Take your money as education, take it as health care, take it is pensions but there is a total global limit on all resources combined which people get from the collective pool of money (i.e. the government).

    It won't stop wealth inequality, it won't stop al kinds of things but it will bring social cohesiveness back again.

  4. Frank Field has an article in The Spectator anticipating a collapse in Sterling before the summer. If this comes to pass, elderly people without family will probably begin to die off much sooner. It might be interesting to look at mortuary statistics in Argentina and Russia post collapse, to see how life expectancy fell.
    Ultimately what can't be afforded won't be. Obviously retirement as we knew it is about to end, people will work longer because they'll have to, so life expectancy will fall, especially amongst the poor.

  5. It's not just the affordability of pensions.

    There is a meeting in the middle of welfare and pensions paid for by a dwindling productive sector work force.

    A great reckonning is on the way. Woooo.

  6. The pensions bill would be affordable, if we weren't paying millions of people between 18 and 65 (or should it be 70?) to sit on their arses collecting benefits.

    Even more affordable if public sector pensions were equalised with private sector ones.

  7. Interesting response. Paying one group of people not to work over another.

  8. Sobers makes a fair point.

    As I have said before it's not the ratio of "working age to pensioners" that matters, it's the ratio of "productive workers to everybody else" that matters.

    The magic fag packet says, out of 32 million actual workers, at least a quarter of public sector workers are unproductive and ten per cent of private sector are just dealing with regulations and crap, so that's 28 million productive workers out of a population of 61 million (the other 33 million are children, unemployed, quangocrats, form fillers and pensioners).

    Further the official retirement age of 65 is on the low side.

    So all we have to do is ... tweak the retirement age up in line with increase in life expectancy (i.e. by one month every year); have a cull of quangocrats; slash regulations so that private sector workers aren't wasting so much time filling in forms; and replace welfare state with citizen's income style scheme (to get people off the dole), then that puts off the problem for decades and possibly for ever.

  9. When I first met wifey she was homeless. This was great as after I'd finished with her I could drop her off where ever I wanted to. I paid off her debts when we got married and vowed that no friend of mine should ever be homeless again (Wifey is no longer my friend - not technically anyway.) So - mindful of this - we keep the spare room available for people such as elderly relatives who might fall upon hard times... except that I recently took a consignment of half priced dildos from the sex shop which has just closed down in the town. I've put them in the spare room whilst waiting for an upturn.

    Sadly for my homeless friends squatters have moved in.


  10. Your point about ageing is a fair one, but using this particular statistic to illustrate it is a bit cheeky - nobody imagines, I would think, that 1500 90-year-olds are going to bankrupt the UK because of their care needs.

    It might have been a bit more honest to focus on the number of over-70's, which will be a much larger number and could really cause a problem.

    However, all those Moslem immigrants are having lots of babies - now all we need to do is ensure they stay here (easy), and work (a bit harder), and pay lots of tax (harder still).