Dependency ratios are useful for governments as it helps them plan for future demands in services. Dependency ratios have numerous implications in both LEDCs and MEDCs; throughout this essay I will discuss each of these implications.
My chosen MEDC case study is the UK, and the UK is currently experiencing an aged dependency. At present the life expectancy is around 74 years for men and 80 for women, this aged dependency is due to the dramatic improvements in social and economic conditions in the UK. Health care and education have aided in the increase in life expectancy and in Europe over 40% of the population will be over 60 by 2050.
Despite many assuming that an older population will only carry negative issues, there are some noteable examples of the benefits of this aged dependency. First of all, senior citizens will have disposable incomes and many mortgages will be paid off. As the present generation of pensioners enjoy better health, many more will choose to move away to more smaller, quieter areas. The seaside towns of the south coast of England are good examples of this type of development. In these towns many of the younger population will find employment in the provision of services for the elderly residents. It is also claimed that a society with a large population of elderly should be more stable as the younger generations can benefit from the experience and advice from the senior members of society.
Despite the few disadvantages discussed above, unfortunately the negative implications of an aged dependency in MEDCs overrule any of the advantages noted. The first disadvantage is with regards to medical care, which may become a major problem in years to come in the UK. Currently, care for the elderly is calculated at £1.6 billion pounds, with most of this coming from the salaries of the working population. Healthcare will continue to be funded through contributions or those in employment, therefore if the average age is increasing, it is easy to see that the health service will soon not be able to cope.
In addition to this, another fundamental problem of aged dependency is state pensions. When the pension scheme was introduced in the UK in the 1950s life expectancy was considerably lower, but not that people are living longer the financial burden on the government has increased dramatically. Due to this, the government had to make changes such as increase the age of retirement and state pension to 68. The government also encouraged people to take out private pensions.
Furthermore, adding to the vast amount of implications of an ageing society is the factor of the future workforce. With a falling birth rate and an ageing population, some MEDCs such as the UK will fall below placement level. In the UK at present there are insufficient workers to fill all the skilled and unskilled manual jobs. Some of these jobs are filled by foreign migrants; however, other MEDCs such are France are recognising this problem and are pursuing policies to entice younger people to have more children.