December 2012.indd - Population Connection

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December 2012.indd - Population Connection

POPULATION CONNECTION

Volume 44, Issue 4

December 2012

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POPULATION CONNECTION

Population Aging

and the U.S.

Economy


When I spoke recently at all-commuter Governors

State University in suburban Chicago as part

of a 23-campus tour, one student explained

her Interdisciplinary Studies major as the quickest path to a

degree. She plans to go to graduate school at “the nearest and

cheapest school” to become a teacher and thus provide a better

life for her 18-month-old daughter.

No ancestral ivy clings to its walls, but Governors State and

institutions like it are just as vital to the future as the estimable

Ivies. We’re actively engaged on more than 200 college

campuses because students everywhere need to make the

“population connection” while they accumulate other needed

knowledge and skills.

Change is in the air. Consider Webster University, where

I spoke on the fl agship St. Louis campus earlier this year.

Founded in 1915, this private nonprofi t institution now has

more than 100 locations serving 21,000 students in North

America, Europe, and Asia—with its fi rst African location

soon to open in Accra, Ghana. Education may not be a panacea,

but it’s essential. And it clearly leads to smaller families,

which benefi t all of us.

Increased educational opportunity for women was a leading

factor in the astounding 50 percent drop over just 16 years in

the U.S. fertility rate. It stood at 3.4 children per woman in

1961 and dropped to 1.7 by 1977. Th e dramatic increase in

the number of women attending college was one major factor,

along with the advent of the birth control pill and legal protections

for contraception and abortion under the notion of a

“right to privacy.” Along with smaller families, the economy

generally fl ourished as women became involved in every professional

fi eld.

The Reporter — December 2012

President’s Note

At Population Connection, we’re currently working with

experts who share our view that a healthy U.S. economy does

not need population growth. Within that framework, there are

diff ering—perhaps even divergent—views. Some advocate for

a “steady state” economy. After all, economic growth has led us

down an unsustainable, catastrophic path of higher emissions

and depleted natural resources. Other experts tend to focus

on the direct challenge of increasing productivity to meet the

needs of a graying society where there will be relatively fewer

people in the workforce.

Accuse me of pie-eyed optimism, but I think we can and must

begin to shift away from our excessive, conspicuous consumption

of material goods and toward the much more sustainable

consumption of ideas—of education, if you will.

When we “consume” formal education—as 25 percent of all

Americans will do this year, we develop the skills and thought

processes needed to create a more sustainable future. Money

spent on education provides lifelong benefi ts. A nation that

makes learning more accessible to people from all walks of life

is far more likely to foster a better future.

In a world where so many have so little, there are no easy

pathways to a sustainable future. For both ethical and practical

reasons, we must recognize that billions now exist in an

unacceptable state where misery is compounded by soaring

numbers. If America can demonstrate that a healthy society

does not need population growth, we’ll blaze a path for others

to follow.

John Seager

john@popconnect.org

Help Make the Population College Connection

It’s going to take an extended, concentrated eff ort to achieve population stabilization. Th at’s why we need the next generation. We’re

already active on more than 200 college campuses, and we’re expanding our outreach.

You can help. Just email Lee Polansky at lee@popconnect.org or call her at (202) 974-7702 if you know of opportunities for us to

make presentations on any campus across the country. Th ere is never any fee or other cost involved since reaching young people is

central to our grassroots mission.


The Reporter

Volume 4, Issue 4

December 2012

Board Chair

Marianne Gabel

President and CEO

John Seager

Editor and Designer

Marian Starkey

Contributors

Lindsey Bailey, Carol Bliese, David

E. Bloom, Lauren Carlson, Rebecca

Harrington, Robert Hormats, Ronald Lee,

Jay W. Lorsch, Stacie Murphy, Shauna

Scherer, John Seager, Marian Starkey, Nate

Wallace, Pamela Wasserman

Overpopulation threatens the quality of life for

people everywhere. Population Connection is the

national grassroots population organization that

educates young people and advocates progressive

action to stabilize world population at a level that

can be sustained by earth’s resources.

Annual membership includes a one-year

subscription to The Reporter. Annual membership,

$25. All contributions, bequests and gifts are fully

tax-deductible in accordance with current laws.

The Reporter (ISSN 0199-0071)

Population Connection

2120 L Street, NW, Suite 500

Washington, DC 20037

(202) 332-2200

(800) 767-1956

(202) 332-2302 fax

info@popconnect.org

www.PopulationConnection.org

www.PopulationEducation.org

www.Worldof7Billion.org

http://twitter.com/popconnect

www.facebook.com/PopulationConnection

Cover Photo

Credit: Jeffrey Ross

10 The Aging Population:

Economic Growth and

Global Competitiveness

By Robert Hormats

12 Viewing U.S. Economic

Prospects Through a

Demographic Lens

By David E. Bloom and Jay W. Lorsch

18 Economic Consequences of

Population Aging in the

U.S.

By Ronald Lee

2 Editor’s Note

3 Letters to the Editor

4 Pop Facts

6 In the News

8 The President’s Circle

26 Washington View

28 Field & Outreach

30 PopEd

32 Cartoon

33 Editorial Excerpts

www.popconnect.org December 2012 — The Reporter 1


My paternal grandmother lived to be 99 and stayed

alone in her house until just a couple years before

her death. She fl y fi shed, rode her tractor lawn

mower, and had a pet chipmunk that she fed from her hand on

the back porch. She never worked for pay after she got married,

but she raised two kids and was always involved in community

activities, including serving as president of her town’s senior

citizens club for many years. If times had been diff erent, she

probably would have worked for a salary well into her eighties.

Th e American population is getting older. Th e number over

age 62 increased by 21 percent between 2000 and 2010, compared

to a total population growth rate of 9.7 percent. In 2010,

the median age increased to 37 from 35 in 2000. By 2030, it

will be 39.

Population aging is caused by longer life expectancies, lower

fertility rates, and the large baby boom generation getting

older. (Last year, the fi rst of the baby boomers turned 65. From

now until 2029, baby boomers will be reaching retirement age.)

As baby boomers work their way up the age pyramid, they

skew the population older. Without putting too fi ne a point

on it, the bulge will eventually work its way out of the pyramid

altogether, bringing the age distribution closer to equilibrium.

Th e concern most economists and policymakers have with

regard to aging is that the dependency ratio—the number of

people in dependent age groups (under 18 and over 64) per

100 people of working age (18-64)—will rise, weakening the

economy.* Actually, as the median age has increased in the

U.S., the dependency ratio has decreased, meaning that workers

were supporting fewer dependents in 2010 than in 2000.

Although the old age dependency ratio has increased, the

youth dependency ratio has declined by even more.

2 The Reporter — December 2012

Editor’s Note

* Th e lower threshold of the working-age population varies from 15-20,

depending on the researcher, as you will see in the articles within this issue.

Th e UN uses 18, which is the source of the defi nition above.

A note on terminology: Th e dependency ratio refers to dependents per

workers, while the support ratio (which you will encounter in the articles

within) refers to the opposite—workers per dependents.

Th e dependency ratio is expected to grow less favorable in the

coming decades, however; it will reverse course and reach 79.9

dependents per 100 workers in 2050—quite a bit higher than

today’s ratio of 58.9 dependents per 100 workers. But, at no

time between now and 2050 will our dependency ratio be as

high as it was in the 1960s when there were so many babies

being born. We are not heading into completely uncharted territory

in terms of fi guring out how to support a large dependent

population for a fi nite period of time. In fact, this temporary

blip will likely prove more manageable than the blip in the 60s

because the elderly are better able to support themselves and

contribute to the economy than are children.

We have put together this special issue of Th e Reporter to counterbalance

the many articles and reports being published in

recent years that portend economic collapse due to aging and

eventual population stabilization (or decline, as in the case of a

few European and East Asian countries). We have found very

few articles advancing the opposing point of view—that low

fertility is a boon to the economy and that there are many viable

means to accommodating a less favorable dependency ratio—

means that are much more manageable than those required for

dealing with infi nite population growth. Our aim is to broaden

the discussion so that a more nuanced view can take the place

of the lazy existing view. Th is issue of Th e Reporter precedes a

symposium that we are hosting in Washington, DC in June

2013 to engage economic and business leaders in this critical

and timely debate.

With the right economic policies and investments, people

like my grandmother can continue to be productive members

of society well into their golden years. Happily, many elderly

people want to stay engaged—they just need fl exibility and

encouragement from our impatient, fast-paced society to

maintain their relevance in our global economy.

Marian Starkey

mstarkey@popconnect.org


Letters to the Editor

The latest Reporter was EXCELLENT—good editorial—

good records of voting!!

Mr. and Mrs. Jack Nachmias

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

My wife and I were students at Stanford when Paul Ehrlich

arrived there, and have been supporters of ZPG/Population

Connection since it formed.

While we continue to consider runaway population growth

one of the greatest threats to humans, the fact that with wealth

comes fewer children per woman has tempered our focus.

Rather, the problem could be more fundamental and center

on growth itself. After all, wealthy countries got that way by

growth economies. Can economies grow forever?

We are not economists, but as biologists we look at how

nature maintains a balance by continued recycling and having

no waste. On the other hand, even in nature, there are

cycles of excessive growth followed by collapse. For humans,

such massive disruptions can have huge social consequences,

as described in Jared Diamond’s Collapse. Can we outsmart

nature, so to speak, and avoid such cycles?

How can we square a stabilized world population with a stabilized

world economy, both with no net growth? I began

to appreciate this problem when I realized that investments,

including retirement investments and those supporting nonprofits,

all depend on continued economic growth. How can

we escape that dependence?

John Pearse

Pacific Grove, California

I read John Seager’s letter to the Editor in The Christian Science

Monitor, Oct. 15, 2012 issue, and I would add two words to

his commentary: “Only when women [AND MEN] have this

access will population growth slow, and everyone have the

chance to be fed.” I don’t believe it is solely women’s responsibility

to behave in all situations, and/or take contraceptive

Send correspondence to

mstarkey@popconnect.org.

Letters are also accepted via

postal mail. Letters may be

edited for clarity and length.

Attn: Marian Starkey

Population Connection

2120 L St., NW, Ste. 500

Washington, DC 20037

measures to reduce unwanted pregnancies. If men were included

worldwide in all education—that is currently offered only to

women—re the necessity to be accountable and provide, in

tandem with their female partners, for mentally and physically

healthy, well-educated children, and be required to acknowledge

the male parent’s role in this, then the present onus on

women would be relieved somewhat. Your organization could

talk up male contraceptives, encourage education of men in

their role as fathers, and teach men about the earth and how it

is desperately trying to provide for an exponentially growing,

exploiting population…then you will indeed be on the right

track, I believe.

I’m aware that various religious doctrines can try to hamper

or stifle your work, but I feel that your “theology” should have

vital precedence. Please keep up your good efforts, on behalf of

us all. Thank you very much.

Judy Harvey

Danville, Virginia

Oregon State University published a study which shows how

reproduction in the United States negatively impacts the environment

to a far greater degree than reproduction in other

countries. Population Connection doesn’t place nearly enough

emphasis on how reproduction in the United States, in particular,

contributes to worldwide environmental degradation

and social injustice by using a disproportionate amount of the

world’s resources. Given the convergence of environmental

crises in recent years, I would like to see The Reporter and the

Population Connection website give more in-depth coverage

on how an increase in population here is far more devastating

for the environment and other people on the planet than a

similar increase in population in other countries.

Suzanne K. Kelley

www.popconnect.org December 2012 — The Reporter 3


4

G Global Population Aging:

A Remarkable Success Story

In an historical context,

population aging is one of the

most remarkable human success

stories of any era, reflecting

contributions of public health,

medicine, education and economic

development. But capturing and

unlocking the full benefits of that

success require that we adapt

our perspectives and reform our

institutions. The good news is that

there is a wide range of behavioral

changes and public policy

responses to population aging

that would simultaneously avoid a

significant dampening of economic

growth and enhance the quality of

life for people reaching older ages

today and for generations to come.

On the behavior side, declining fertility and increased educational

opportunity have been and will continue to be associated with

changing social roles and greater labor force participation by

women; and fewer children generally yield healthier, smarter

and better-educated younger generations. Insofar as health and

intellectual enhancement through education translate into higher

adult productivity – all well-established links – lower fertility is

tantamount to an increase in the effective labor force, suggesting

a further boost to growth. Lower fertility also leads to a decline

in youth dependency, which offsets the increase in old

age dependency.

Expected increase in the age group of 60+ in the next 40 years

In fact, a recent econometric study shows that increases in older-age

dependency do not significantly impede the growth of income per capita,

unlike increases in youth dependency. These results support the view that

the negative impulse that high fertility conveys to economic growth cannot

be offset by behavioral and institutional changes, unlike the negative

impulse of increased longevity, which can be offset by changes in behavior

and policy.

Moreover, when people expect to live longer, they have an incentive to

save more for the years after they are no longer working. In economic terms,

savings translates into investment, which fuels the accumulation of physical

and human capital and technological progress, the classic drivers of

economic growth.

The success story of population aging and longer lives is often accompanied,

in the end, by tales of doom and gloom; but it is vital that the global

community not succumb. Although there are serious challenges, which

must be weighed, understood, and in some cases adapted to, there are also

enormous opportunities that must be seized.

Source: John R. Beard, Simon Biggs, David E. Bloom, Linda P. Fried, Paul Hogan,

Alexandre Kalache, and S. Jay Olshansky, “Introduction,” Global Population Aging: Peril

The Reporter or Promise? — Global December Agenda 2012 Council on Aging Society, World Economic Forum, 2012.

2010 2050

Percentage of population aged 60 and older

12% 6%

22%

9%

= 100 million

32%

1950 2010 2050

20%

Industrial Countries Developing Countries

Percentage of population aged 60 and older under

alternative total fertility rate scenarios

Low Fertility

Medium Fertility

High Fertility

30

20

10

2030

World More developed regions

2050 2030

2050

Design by Rebecca Dodelin


22%

20%

18%

16%

14%

12%

10%

8%

6%

4%

Percentage of population aged 60 and older

1950 1970 1990 2010

World

More developed

regions

Less developed

regions

Africa

Asia

Europe

Latin America &

Caribbean

Northern America

Oceania

Percentage of world population

aged 60 and older

8% 10%

22%

1950 2010 2050

The UN projects that in 2050 there will be 42 countries with higher shares of the 60-plus group than Japan has now, with the

fastest aging mainly in relatively newly industrialized or developing countries. In fact, China and Brazil will begin to converge

with Japan, which by 2050 will have more than 40% of its population 60 and older, outpacing

the increase in the United States.

Less developed regions Africa Asia Europe Latin America & Caribbean Northern America Oceania

2030 2050 2030 2050 2030 2050 2030 2050 2030 2050 2030 2050 2030 2050

www.popconnect.org December 2012 — The Reporter 5


In the news

Missouri Legislators

Override Nixon Veto

Legislators in Missouri scraped together

a two-thirds majority in September to

override Gov. Nixon’s veto on a bill to

reject the contraceptive mandate in the

Affordable Care Act. Missouri’s new law

is the first in the country to counter the

contraceptive mandate.

“By their act today, the legislators who

voted to override this veto are standing

between women and their right to make

their own personal decisions about birth

control,” said Nixon.

New Virginia Abortion

Clinic Regulations

Abortion clinics in Virginia will be

forced over a two-year period to make

prohibitively costly adjustments to

their facilities because of a new bill that

requires them to comply with regulations

meant for new hospitals. The regulations

require hallways and doorways to be

wide enough for gurneys; they also call

for food facilities, specific ventilation

systems, and covered entrances. Such

adjustments would cost upwards of $1

million per clinic.

The Board of Health originally passed

an amendment in June to grandfather

existing clinics so that only new clinics

would have to comply with the new regulations.

Due to pressure from Attorney

General Ken Cuccinelli and Gov. Bob

McDonnell (Cuccinelli told the Board

that they would be financially responsible

for legal fees should the clinics need

defending due to non-adherence to the

building regulations), the Board again

6 The Reporter — December 2012

voted (13-2) in September, this time

eliminating the grandfather amendment.

There are currently 20 abortion clinics in

the state. Not one of them meets the new

requirements.

Oklahoma Ends Contracts

to Planned Parenthood

The state of Oklahoma in October withdrew

federal funding for three Planned

Parenthood clinics in Tulsa. The change

will take effect in December. In 2012, the

three clinics together received $454,000

from the federally funded Women,

Infants and Children (WIC) program.

None of the clinics affected provide

abortion services.

Terry Bryce, the chief of the health

department’s WIC Services division,

says it was a business decision,

not a political move. According to the

Associated Press, however, “Oklahoma is

among the most conservative states, with

Republicans currently in control of both

legislative chambers and every statewide

elected office.”

Planned Parenthood filed suit to sue the

state health commissioner in November.

NYC Schools Provide

Plan B Emergency

Contraception

A pilot program (since January) in New

York City providing Plan B emergency

contraception to students at 13 public

high schools has raised the ire of some.

Parents received letters notifying them

that they could opt their kids out of the

program—only 1-2 percent of parents

chose to do so. Opponents argue that

the letters should have instead informed

parents that they could opt their kids in

to the program.

The teen pregnancy rate in the pilot areas

is well above the national rate, which is

the highest in the industrialized world.

U.S. Births Down in 2011

The number of births in the U.S. fell in

2011 for the fourth year in a row, according

to preliminary birth certificate data

from the Centers for Disease Control

and Prevention (CDC). The decline was

1 percent from 2010, compared with 2-3

percent for previous years.

The birth rate (annual births per 1,000

women of childbearing age) in 2011

dropped to its lowest level since 1920.

The total fertility rate (the average number

of children women would bear in

their lifetimes if the pace of childbearing

remained constant for the long term) is

now 1.89—below the long term replacement

rate of 2.1.

The Hispanic birth rate dropped the

most, by 6 percent. Births to women in

their early 20s fell by 5 percent. The teen

birth rate declined to 31.3 per 1,000 girls

ages 15-19, the lowest it’s been since

record keeping started in the 1940s.

Free Birth Control Study

A 2008-2010 study that provided free

birth control to more than 9,000 poor

and uninsured women in St. Louis found

that when they received counseling and

didn’t have to pay out of pocket costs,

they chose the most effective methods.


Teens in the study had only 6.3 births

per 1,000 girls ages 15-19. The national

teen birth rate in 2010 was 34.3—more

than five times higher.

Abortion rates were also much lower

among women in the study: 4.4-7.5

abortions per 1,000 women in the study,

compared with 13.4-17 abortions per

1,000 women in the St. Louis general

population. The national rate is nearly 20

abortions per 1,000 women.

Contraceptive Implants

Discounted for Consumers

in Developing World

With donations from the U.S., UK,

Norway, Sweden, and the Children’s

Investment Fund, the Clinton Health

Access Initiative worked out a deal with

Bayer to cut the cost of its contraceptive

implants (brand name Jadelle) to the

developing world by half (from $18). The

deal will lower the direct cost for 27 million

women in poor countries.

According to a USAID press release,

“When fully implemented, the partnership

will avert more than 280,000

child and 30,000 maternal deaths due to

improved birth spacing and by avoiding

other problems such as preterm births.”

In addition, “The partnership is expected

to avert almost 30 million unwanted

pregnancies from 2013 to 2018 and will

save an estimated 250 million USD in

global health costs.”

Jadelle provides reliable contraception

for up to five years. It is a popular method

among women who do not have their

husbands’ approval to use birth control

and also among women who cannot easily

get to a clinic for prescription refills or

shots. It can be inserted by trained health

workers and can be removed at any time,

at which point fertility is restored.

600M New Jobs Needed

The World Bank says the global economy

must create 600 million new jobs

by 2020 to accommodate population

growth, foster development, prevent

conflict, and empower women. The jobs

are mainly needed in Asia and sub-Saharan

Africa.

870 Million Hungry

The number of people who suffer from

chronic hunger has been reduced to 870

million from 925 million in 2010. Part of

the reduction was due to revised population

projections. The number of people

hungry has been declining for the past

two decades, although more slowly since

2007-2008.

More than 100 million children

under age five are underweight due to

malnutrition.

Abortion Ship in Morocco

A Dutch ship called Women on Waves

that travels to countries lacking legal

abortion care was blocked from docking

in Morocco. Staff on the ship provide

medical abortion in international waters

to women who are up to six-and-a-half

weeks pregnant, largely as an awarenessraising

effort since many women are

unaware of the availability of medical

[vs. surgical] abortion.

Women on Waves had been invited to

Morocco by a Moroccan youth group,

but the health ministry said the ship

was not allowed. This would have been

the ship’s first visit to a Muslim country;

it has already visited Catholic countries

such as Ireland, Portugal, and Spain.

According to the Moroccan government,

600-800 illegal abortions are performed

every day in the country.

Uruguay Legalizes Abortion

Compelled to do something about the

30,000 illegal abortions that occur each

year in Uruguay, President Jose “Pepe”

Mujica signed a bill in October that

legalized first trimester abortions for any

reason. Uruguay is only the third Latin

American country to do so (Cuba and

Guyana are the others, and Mexico City

has also legalized the procedure).

Iran Seeks to Reduce Legal

Age of Marriage

Iranian lawmakers are pushing to lower

the legal age of marriage to 9 from 13.

They call the current law “un-Islamic”

because the Prophet Muhammad married

a 6-year-old and consummated the

marriage when she was only 9.

According to recent data released by

Iran’s Association of Children’s Rights,

43,459 girls under the age of 15 were

married in Iran in 2009. As many as 716

girls were married under the age of 10

in 2010. The younger a girl is when she

marries, the higher the bride price paid

to her family.

To read the original articles from

which these summaries were taken, see

www.popconnect.org/news

www.popconnect.org December 2012 — The Reporter 7


The PoPulaTion ConneCTion PresidenT’s CirCle

reCognizing donors for Their generous ConTribuTions of

$1,000 or More

By Shauna Scherer

Dr. and Mrs. Arthur and

Jane Riggs have been

members of Population

Connection (formerly ZPG)

since 1979, although their

concern over human population

growth began more than a

decade earlier. Like so many

early members of ZPG, they

were moved as college students

when Dr. Paul Ehrlich spoke on their

college campus.

The Riggs met while they were both

attending The University of California,

Riverside—Jane a premed student with,

as Art tells it, “a deep interest in and an

understanding of biology,” and Art a

budding molecular biologist, biochemist,

and geneticist. It was not their common

love of biology and nature that first

brought them together, though, but Art’s

college roommate, who took Jane on a

double date to the local bowling alley

and introduced the future couple.

Ehrlich’s “population bomb” lecture resonated

with the Riggs, both of whom grew

up in Southern California. They watched

the housing development boom claim

formerly agricultural areas. “Growing

up in San Bernardino, it was still semirural,”

Art remembers. “The same was

true of Riverside. When we bought our

house, we liked it because it was still surrounded

by orange groves.” Within a

year, he said, the orange trees had been

replaced by houses to accommodate the

growing population. “We both saw this

wonderful Southern California habitat

being destroyed during our lifetimes.”

Rather than becoming a doctor, Jane

pursued teaching. She taught classes

8 The Reporter — December 2012

from second grade to junior high, finding

satisfaction in the children’s love of

learning. One thing she found lacking in

the schools, though, was adequate information

for young people about delaying

pregnancy. “We need to show them what

they can become if they delay pregnancy,”

she said, citing fact-based sex

education and access to birth control as

two key factors in helping young people

to achieve their aspirations in life.

The Riggs have done their part to help

solve the population challenge. They

support Population Connection’s advocacy

and education programs. They also

support organizations working to preserve

open spaces and natural habitats.

Because of their commitment to population

stabilization and environmental

sustainability, they decided after having

two biological children to adopt a

third. “It was right around the time Paul

Ehrlich published The Population Bomb,”

Art said. “We got the son we wanted

without adding to the population.”

This problem-solving attitude is par

for the course for the Riggs. In fact, in

Art’s career as a molecular biologist, he

has tackled some of the worst diseases

plaguing humankind. As he puts it, he’s

“been very fortunate to make several

discoveries in basic science that have

become a fundamental part of disease

treatment today.” He was the

first to successfully create a

man-made gene, which led to

the development of a gene for

human insulin, as well as the first

recombinant antibodies. These

breakthroughs led to the manufacture

of the first successful

biological drugs, thus improving

the quality of life and extending

life-spans for innumerable people suffering

from diabetes and cancer.

Art is also determined to improve the

quality of life for people suffering from

the effects of rapid population growth,

such as children without adequate access

to clean drinking water, nutrition, education,

or health care. Unfortunately, he

warns, we cannot depend on the miracle

of science to help support the 7 billion

people already sharing the planet.

“Critics have claimed Paul Ehrlich was

wrong,” Art says, “but actually, he only

failed to anticipate a miracle. The Green

Revolution came to the rescue. It more

than doubled the amount of food that

plants could produce.” Art concludes

that we are unlikely to see another technological

revolution of that kind in the

future. “There is a limit. As a scientist,

I firmly believe that the public cannot

depend on continuing scientific discoveries

to sustain continued growth

of the world’s population.” That is why

the Riggs are so dedicated to achieving

Population Connection’s goal of zero

population growth. And it’s why they are

proud to support our mission as members

of the President’s Circle.

Contact Shauna Scherer at 202-974-7730

to join the President’s Circle.


Nina Abrams Fund

Michael B. and Mary Barbara

Alexander

Mariette Allen

Janet Jeppson Asimov

Aspen Business Center Foundation

Donald Ayer

Arthur A. and Shirley A. Babad

Kent P. Bach

Julia Bailey

Bill Baird

Anita Baly

Jill Barnes

Philip T. Bee Charitable Trust

Brett and Tanya BeGole

Raymond Bellamy

D. J. Benefi el

Bill Berg

Robert Berg and Carol Emerson

Erik E. and Edith H. Bergstrom

Foundation

Eleanor Berry

Jeanne Berwind

Douglas W. and Anita B. Bewick

David Blittersdorf

Amy Blitzer

Trent Block

Joseph Blum

Althea Brimm

Mary M. Brock

Richard Brome

Mary Browbay and Cottee Ronald

Schroeder

Charla Brown and Robert Burnett

Christopher Brown

Fred Brown

Lester Brown

Art and Barbara Bryant

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Charles Carpenter Jr.

Blair Carty

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John Chamberlain

Wallace H. Champeny

Karen Chance

Willi Cheney

Dave Chizek

Hilary P. Clark

Robert C. Cobb Jr.

Cliff ord and Carolyn Colwell

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Andrew Crowley

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Jeff rey Dennis

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Gregory and Helen DiRenzo

Julian and Katharine Donahue

Lyn DuMoulin

Jim and Maggie Dunn

Educational Foundation of

America

Stanley Eisenberg

www.popconnect.org

CharTer MeMbers of The PresidenT’s CirCle

Charles and Mary Fadel

Patricia Fair

Mr. and Mrs. Th omas W. Faulkner

Th e Moses Feldman Family

Foundation

Nancy Florsheim

Kristin Floyd-Gillern

William and Rosie Foster

Foundation Beyond Belief

Cameron and Diane Fowler

Stuart A. Fox

Frankel Foundation

Marie E. Fraser

Marianne Gabel

Th e Garfi eld Foundation

Dedre Gentner

Don C. Gentry

Ivan C. Getting

Sarah L. Gilbert and Carl E.

Wieman

Duff G. Gillespie

Th e Glickenhaus Foundation

Jerry Glowniak

David and Alena Goeddel

Lisa and Douglas Goldman Fund

Richard and Th eresa Gregg

Marjorie Grinnell

Jeni E. Halliday

Robert Harrison

David E. and Shirley F. Hartley

Paul C. Haughey

Mark J. Hausknecht

William M. Hawkins

Bob and Rosie Heil

Robert W. Hellwarth

Leigh A. Henderson

Jane Henner

Th eodore W. and Margie Henning

Louis J. Herskowitz

Minna W. Hewes

William W. Hildreth

Eric and Susan Hirst

Robert Hoff man

Joyce Homan

R. E. Hopper

Gunther S. and Agnes J. Hughes

David Husch

Henry N. Ingwerson Jr.

Pierce Johnson Jr.

Ken Johnston

K. Malcolm Jones

Henri Pell Junod Jr.

Sally B. Kaplan

Eleanor R. Kaufer

Richard R. Kauff man

Joanne and Dennis Keith

Vicky and Grant Kemp

Th omas F. King

Jerry A. Kolar

Paul V. Konka

Melodee Kornacker

Susan Krala

Matt W. Krummell

Peter Kunstadter

Dr. and Mrs. George Kurz

Jim Lampl

Ann E. Larimore

Barry Lauesen and Marilyn

Altebach

Gladys and Ralph Lazarus

Foundation

David Lehnherr

Donald W. Leonard

Dorothy and Andy Leong

Lois J. Levine

Perry J. Luke

Reed Maltzman and Jennifer

Gosselin

Norman Mandelbaum

Sheila Marshall

Elizabeth L. Martin

David T. Massey

Christopher and Catherine

Mathews

Richard McCabe

McCullough Foundation

Janet McKean and David Murphy

Peter R. McKnight

Kathryn K. McNeil

Friedrike Merck

Katherine Merck

Henry D. Messer

Douglas Mittelstaedt

Russell Moff ett

Denny Mullen

Robert K. and Caryn McTighe

Musil

Th e Namaste Foundation

Jeff rey Nelson

Lyle E. Nelson

Alice Neuhauser and Th omas

Conroy

Paul and Antje Newhagen

Joyce Nicholas

Linda Nicholes

Heidi Nitze

Karen Nixon and Clark Searle

Martha and Austin Nobunaga

Robert L. Nutt Charitable

Foundation

William Oettmeier

Roman Oliynyk and Maureen

Hackett

Gilman Ordway

James L. Packard

Mary Pearlman

Fredric W. and Mary L. Pement

Joseph Perez

Prof. Arthur Edwin Peterson

John Petro and Jane Clayton

Bob Pettapiece

Frank A. and Judy C.M. Pezzanite

C. Plantamura and F. Prael

Paul Popenoe Jr.

Stuart E. Porteous

Th e Louis and Harold Price

Foundation

Cory Pulfrey

Nina Purdon Charitable

Foundation

Rainbow Parachute Inc.

Paul Reilly

Richmond District Democratic

Club

Arthur and Jane Riggs

Barbara Rosen

Carol Rudolph

Milton H. and Jeanne W. Saier

Fred and Karen Schaufeld

Michael Scher

Henry S. Scherer Jr.

Robert and Beth Schlechter

Dr. Ray and Betty Schofi eld

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Serving Th e Spirit Foundation

Richard Shanteau

Shenandoah Foundation

James M. Shultz

Silverman Charitable Group

David Sirkin

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James S. Sligar and Diana M.

Sattelberger

Emil Slowinski

Mary R. Snoeyenbos

Susan M. Sogard

Zig Sondelski

George Sonnichsen

Pete C. Sparks

Jo Ellen Spitz

Fred and Alice Stanback

Norton Starr

Peggy and David Starr

Th eodore L. Steck and Yvonne

Lange

Orlando and Cynthia Stephenson

Sidney Stern Memorial Trust

Frances W. Stevenson

Sybil Stoller

Paul Storey

Philippa Strahm

Lee J. Strauss

John and Elouise C. Sutter

Lawrence Tarone

Th omas Tarpey and Carolyn King

Fenwick Taylor

David Th omas

Th e Laney Th ornton Foundation

John and Anna Marie Th ron

Th eodore A. Tyler

Jonathan Ungar

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Verilux, Inc.

Bonnie Vitti

Ralph Wagner

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December 2012 — The Reporter

9


The

Aging Population

Economic Growth and Global Competitiveness

By Robert Hormats, Under Secretary of State for Economic Growth, Energy, and the Environment

“We need a sea-change not just in policies, but in attitudes about what it

inactive or dependent, and in so doing turn “population aging” into the

10 The Reporter — December 2012


The world today stands at the

precipice of a major demographic

paradigm shift. With decreasing

birth rates and increasing life-spans,

populations in large areas of the world

are aging rapidly, including in most

developed countries and an increasing

number of developing countries. Aging

populations pose a series of social and

economic challenges. Standard & Poor’s

reports that “No other force is likely to

shape the future of national economic

health, public finances, and policymaking

as the irreversible rate at which

the world’s population is aging.”

Hence, it’s vital that we create opportunities

to enable older persons to contribute

to their economies and communities in

increasingly effective and productive

ways. This will require new policies and

innovations that promote healthy aging,

including advances in medicine, continued

learning, and cultural norms regarding

aging. As population aging is elevated

to the global agenda, the countries that

capitalize on the increasing percentage of

older adults, and are able to increasingly

facilitate their meaningful contributions,

will secure a strategic and competitive

advantage in the years to come.

Consider the demographic facts: In the

United States, 77 million baby boomers—born

from 1946 through 1964—are

beginning to transition into retirement.

In addition to increasing the strain on

government-sponsored programs like

Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security,

the retirement of this large group of

Americans could also create significant

losses in productivity as well as specialized

skills upon which many of our companies

depend.

www.popconnect.org

The United States is not alone in the

challenge and opportunity of population

aging. By 2050, more than 2 billion

people worldwide will be over the age of

60. By then, for the first time in human

history, more people will be over the age

of 60 than under 15. Life-spans have

increased an incredible three decades in

the past one hundred years and disability

rates have been declining. The science of

health promotion and risk factor reduction,

coupled with advancements in

medicine, have made it possible for a large

percentage of the population to live out

their lives in functional and productive

ways. Longevity and health, however, are

only part of the equation. As more people

worldwide enter their traditional retirement

years, the dependency ratio (i.e., the

number of retirees per worker) will skyrocket,

requiring prudent review of 20 th

century retirement models.

Providing opportunities for continued

contribution by an aging population is

an economic imperative in a growing

number of nations, both developing and

developed. This is a new challenge for

developing country governments, especially

in Latin America and Asia, which

over the past few decades have experienced

a significant drop in fertility and

death rates. That’s why the Asia-Pacific

Economic Cooperation (APEC) has

declared economic success to be a function

of the health and productivity of

APEC’s Member Economies’ aging populations.

This declaration is supported by

other global organizations also working

to turn aging into an opportunity. Indeed,

the European Union has launched 2012

as its year of Active and Healthy Aging.

And the World Health Organization

(WHO) has begun an Age-Friendly

Cities Program and dedicated 2012

World Health Day to aging populations.

Equally significant is the global health

community’s new focus on age-related

health challenges, called non-communicable

diseases (NCDs), such as

cardiovascular and respiratory diseases,

cancer, and diabetes. A WHO Resolution

calling on governments to “strengthen

NCD policies to promote active aging”

was at the center of this year’s World

Health Assembly in May. This work is an

important sign that aging is now beginning

to occupy a critical and rightful place

on the international agenda.

We need a focused, society-wide effort

to transform our vision of aging from a

time of dependency to a time of continued

growth, contribution, and social and

economic participation. Older adults have

a wealth of experience and much to contribute.

We need a sea-change not just

in policies, but in attitudes about what it

means to grow old. We must break the

stereotype that to be old is to be inactive

or dependent, and in so doing turn “population

aging” into the century’s greatest

achievement.

Collaborating with our private sector

and global partners is a path to sharing

strategies and solutions to the truly global

phenomenon of population aging. On

the government side, an important step

will be to broaden the base of collaboration

on aging populations to include not

only health, but also economic, finance,

and trade portfolios. Working together,

we can turn the longevity bequeathed

us from the 20 th century into a positive

driver of growth, contribution, and economic

activity in the 21 st .

means to grow old. We must break the stereotype that to be old is to be

century’s greatest achievement.”

December 2012 — The Reporter

11


Viewing U.S. Economic Prospects

Through a Demographic Lens

By David E. Bloom, Clarence James Gamble Professor of Economics and

Demography at the Harvard School of Public Health, and Jay W. Lorsch,

Louis Kirstein Professor of Human Relations at the Harvard Business School

Since World War II, the

United States has experienced

dramatic demographic and

economic changes.

• The overall population doubled, from

158 million in 1950 to 316 million

in 2012—with the United Nations

Population Division projecting a further

increase to 362 million by 2030.

• The ratio of the working-age

population (ages 15-64) to the nonworking-age

population (ages 14 and

under or 65 and over) rose from a low

of 1.5 in the early 1960s to a high of

2.05 in 2006, and then down slightly

12 The Reporter — December 2012

to just under 2.0 in 2012—with a

projected further drop to below 1.6

in 2030.

These trends matter because they influence

the level and growth rate of income

per capita and the relative position of

America in the world economy. The

higher worker to non-worker ratio,

which began when the baby boomer generation

(i.e., the 1946-1964 birth cohort)

entered the workforce, led to a surge in

savings, investment, and the supply of

labor, and was accompanied by unprecedented

prosperity. Since 1960, GDP

has nearly quintupled in real terms, while

GDP per capita has almost tripled.

But what is ahead for America? New

demographics are clearly in the offing,

most notably a dramatic rise in the share

of elderly people and major changes

in racial and ethnic composition. The

median age of the U.S. population

increased from 30 to 37 between 1950

and today and is projected to reach 39

by 2030. And the year from April 2010-

April 2011 was the first time that there

were more non-white babies born than

white babies. Non-Hispanic whites are

expected to make up less than half of the

U.S. population by 2050.

This article assesses how future demographic

changes may shape economic


Photo: Stuart Key, Dreamstime.com

prospects for the United States. We aim

to dispel myths about the inevitability of

negative economic consequences associated

with key demographic changes such

as declines in the ratio of the workingage

to the non-working-age population,

population aging, continued immigration,

and changes in the U.S. population’s

racial and ethnic composition.

Evolving views on population

growth and economic growth

For over two centuries, it has been commonly

believed that rapid population

growth stood in the way of improvements

in standards of living. During most of the

1980s and 1990s, new evidence led most

www.popconnect.org

economists to think that population

growth per se has no effect on economic

growth. In the past 15 years, however,

studies have found that, at least in some

countries, rapid population growth does

tend to impede economic growth and

poverty alleviation, largely by elevating

the burden of youth dependency. By

contrast, declining fertility makes this

burden more manageable by increasing

the ratio of the working-age to the

non-working-age populations. This ratio

invariably rises as populations make the

transition from high to low rates of fertility

and mortality (mainly because the

changes are asynchronous, with death

rates declining first) and in the period

following a baby boom. When that happens,

there is considerable potential for

increasing economic output on a per

capita basis. The potential is due to the

swelling of the labor force and of levels

of savings per capita. These accounting

effects are typically magnified by

the rise in women’s participation in the

workforce that naturally comes with a

decline in fertility, the boost to savings

that occurs because the incentive to save

for longer periods of retirement increases

as people live longer, and society’s ability

to comfortably reallocate resources from

investments in children to investments

in physical capital, job training, technological

progress, and strengthening other

institutions.

The combined effect, known as the

“demographic dividend,” is estimated

to have accounted for one-third of the

rapid economic growth in the East Asian

“miracle” countries between 1965 and

1990 (i.e., about two of the six percentage

points in the annual growth of income

per capita). Similarly, the near-absence of

this change in the age structure of Africa,

where high fertility remained the norm,

is likely a decisive factor underlying

that continent’s slow economic growth.

That said, it is important to note that

a demographic dividend does not take

place automatically. It requires policies

and practices that promote the efficient

use of labor and capital, including policies

related to education, governance,

business, labor legislation, trade, macroeconomic

management, and relations

with neighboring countries.

Where do some of the world’s biggest

economies stand now in terms of this

demographic trend? As Figure 1 (next

page) shows, the United States is now

near an all-time high in the ratio of its

working-age to non-working-age population,

although the coming decades will

see a large decline in this ratio, back to

the level of the 1960s. Both Germany and

Japan have already begun to experience a

long projected decline in this indicator.

China and Russia have very high ratios,

but are just now reaching their peaks and

will soon see rapid declines; Brazil is on

a similar trend, although at a lower level.

And India still has a ways to go before

it peaks.

Major U.S. demographic

changes underway

With these facts in mind, we can look at

the economic challenges and opportunities

associated with demographic change

in the United States now and over the

coming decades. Several of them—

immigration, population aging, and the

changing racial and ethnic composition

of the country—have set off alarms

about the future of the U.S. economy.

But are these alarms justified? Let’s start

with the trends themselves.

Immigration. The United States has long

been a magnet for immigrants. The number

of people obtaining legal permanent

residence status first surpassed 1 million

in 1905. At the onset of World War I,

immigration plunged to about 300,000

per year, and it declined even further during

the Great Depression. After World

War II, immigration increased rapidly,

reaching 640,000 in 1988 and then

December 2012 — The Reporter

13


Viewing U.S. Economic Prospects Through a Demographic Lens

Ratio of working-age to

non-working-age population

3.0

2.5

2.0

1.5

1.0

1950 1960 1970 1980 1990 2000 2010 2020 2030 2040 2050

jumping to 1.1 million the next year and

an all-time high of 1.8 million in 1991.

The number fell again in the 1990s, but

rose again and has exceeded 1 million

in every year since 2005. Although the

number of new legal immigrants was

roughly equal in 1905 and 2011, the

share of such new immigrants is much

smaller now than then.

The distribution of immigration by

country of origin has changed considerably

over time. In the decade beginning

1900, Europeans made up more than 90

percent of all legal immigrants, but their

share fell to 56 percent in the 1950s, with

most of the rest from Canada, Mexico,

Asia, and the Caribbean. However, in

2011, about 90 percent were from Asia

or Latin America (roughly equally

divided)—with 55 percent of all legal

immigrants obtaining permanent resident

status being female (57 percent

among those 21 or older) and 45 percent

between ages 20 and 39. Although

immigrants distribute themselves very

unevenly among U.S. states, the top

14 The Reporter — December 2012

USA

Germany

Japan

Russia

India

China

Brazil

Figure 1: Ratio of working-age to non-working-age population has peaked in the U.S. Source: UN, World

Population Prospects: The 2010 Revision.

destinations have been remarkably stable

over time: California, New York, Texas,

Florida, Illinois, and New Jersey.

As for the total number of immigrants living

in the United States, this is unknown

because of the uncertainty about illegal

immigration. Some estimates suggest

that the total reaches about 40 million,

which would represent a similar share of

the total population compared with the

beginning of the 20 th century—although

a much higher share than in the intervening

years. For the undocumented

immigrants, estimates range widely,

from as low as 7 million to as high as 20

million. The Pew Hispanic Center estimated

in 2005 that 57 percent were from

Mexico, with roughly 25 percent from

other Latin American countries.

Changing racial and ethnic composition.

Non-Hispanic whites account for 64

percent of the U.S. population, a figure

that has been, and is projected to continue,

falling over time. The median age

of this demographic group is almost 42,

well above the median ages of 32 and

28 among the black population and

the Hispanic population, respectively.

Although Hispanics only make up onesixth

of the U.S. population, they will

account for more than half of U.S. population

growth during 2000-2015.

An important contributor to the declining

share of non-Hispanic whites is their

relatively low share of population in the

prime reproductive ages, and their relatively

low rates of fertility during those

years. Hispanic immigration is also a

powerful contributor to the changing

racial and ethnic makeup of the U.S.

population.

As is well known, the average income

of blacks and Hispanics in the United

States is far below that of whites. The

gaps in wealth tend to receive less attention,

but they, too, are enormous. In

2009, the median net worth of white

households was $113,000. The figures

for Hispanic and black households were

$6,300 and $5,700, respectively.

These differences in economic circumstances

reflect many underlying factors,

among them education and training.

In general and for a variety of reasons,

blacks and Hispanics have lower levels of

education and skill than non-Hispanic

whites and are less prepared to enter

occupations with relatively high levels of

compensation.

Population aging. The share of the

elderly is rising worldwide, with the

highest levels occurring in developed

countries (especially Japan and in

Europe). However, some of the sharpest

increases will take place in countries in

the developing world, most prominently

Brazil and China. In the United States,

those aged 65 and older have shot up


from 13 million in 1950 (8 percent of the

population) to 43 million (14 percent)

in 2012—and this figure is projected to

grow to 20 percent by 2030. Also notable

is the growing share of the “oldest

old”—those 85 and older—whose needs

and capacities are substantially different

from those aged 65-84. The 85+ crowd

in the U.S. has also grown rapidly, from

1.2 percent of total population in 1990

to 2.0 percent today, with projections of

2.4 percent in 2030. Rising elder shares

reflect the aging of large baby boom

cohorts and increased longevity, as well as

changes in fertility and net immigration.

Economic salience of these

demographic shifts

So what are the economic and political

worries associated with these demographic

trends?

First, U.S. productivity might fall. The

concern is that black and Hispanic workers

have substantially lower education

and skill than the non-Hispanic whites

they will increasingly be replacing in the

labor force. Absent appropriate action

(increasing educational attainment and

skills training of minority populations),

this could translate into slower productivity

and income growth for the United

States.

Second, skill shortages may impede competitiveness.

Some have argued that

certain pockets of the U.S. workforce

suffer from unemployment in part

because they lack the skills that employers

seek. Others find no evidence at all

that such a skills gap exists and argue

that unemployment is due primarily to

lack of aggregate demand.

Third, population aging might create

numerous financial problems. Concerns

center on the large portion of the

www.popconnect.org

population that will be, to varying

extents, dependent on the working-age

population for financial support, physical

care, and companionship. For most

of the elderly, financial support comes

from a combination of sources, including

personal savings, family members, Social

Security, private pensions, and continued

work. The long-term viability of some

of these sources largely depends on the

overall economy and (in some instances)

the productive output of younger generations.

The elderly may also legitimately

worry about companionship, as smaller

families, larger generation gaps, geographic

mobility, and in some cases

changing expectations lessen younger

people’s connections to their parents and

grandparents.

Health care. Rising health care costs

have the potential to hobble the U.S.

economy. In 2010, the United States

spent 18 percent of GDP on health care

(the highest by far from both a historical

and comparative perspective). A rising

share of the elderly in the population

has led to fears that health care costs

will inevitably continue to increase, as

the elderly are more prone to experience

one or more costly-to-treat chronic

conditions such as cardiovascular disease,

diabetes, cancer, and chronic respiratory

“In the United States,

those aged 65 and

older have shot up from

13 million in 1950 (8

percent of the population)

to 43 million (14 percent)

in 2012—and this figure

is projected to grow to 20

percent by 2030.”

disease. Evidence on the “compression

of morbidity” into a (relatively or

absolutely) smaller part of a longer life

cycle is thin and is doing little to silence

alarms that have been sounding in various

quarters about the fiscal implications

of population aging.

Social Security. The rapid rise in the

elderly share of the population has,

appropriately, focused attention on the

financial unsustainability of our payas-you-go

Social Security system. This

public finance challenge creates huge

risks to the economic well-being of the

elderly, especially those who traditionally

rely more heavily on Social Security benefits

for support: the less educated, less

skilled, and less wealthy. Although politically

contentious, there are a number

of reforms to contribution and benefit

schedules that could address this issue.

Fourth, social welfare dependency is

poised to rise. Many Americans benefit

from social welfare programs.

Unemployment benefits, food stamps,

Medicaid, and Social Security payments

to the disabled and to survivors of Social

Security recipients are prominent among

these. Increasing shares of elderly and

black and Hispanic populations suggest

greater demands on these programs,

which may crowd out investments in

myriad forms of physical and human

capital, and technological progress—all

classic drivers of economic growth.

Countervailing demographics

Some of the demographic trends discussed

above imply potential economic

difficulties for the United States in the

years ahead. However, there are two

countervailing trends, involving fertility

and immigration.

Fertility. Unlike in many other

December 2012 — The Reporter

15


Viewing U.S. Economic Prospects Through a Demographic Lens

Children per woman

7

6

5

4

3

2

1

1950 1960 1970 1980 1990 2000 2010 2020 2030 2040 2050

developed countries, the fertility rate

in the United States has not fallen well

below its long-run replacement level

(roughly 2.1 children per woman).

Indeed, as shown in Figure 2, fertility

has actually increased since 1980 and is

now at replacement level. By contrast,

Germany (at 1.5 children per woman)

and Japan (at 1.4)—as well as many

other countries—have fertility rates that

are far below the long-run replacement

level.

Relatively high fertility in the United

States means that there will be a correspondingly

robust rate of new entrants

to the labor force in the coming years,

a trend that will likely be reinforced by

continuing immigration. Income per

capita in the U.S. will benefit from having

large numbers of potential workers

and savers; the fiscal integrity of Social

Security and health care financing stand

to benefit as well.

Immigration. Immigrants are often selfselected

for their work ethic, ambition,

16 The Reporter — December 2012

USA

Germany

Japan

Russia

India

China

Brazil

Figure 2: U.S. fertility rate is roughly at replacement level. Source: UN, World Population Prospects: The

2010 Revision.

and willingness to take risk. Moreover,

a large portion of immigrants are of

working age: 45 percent are between 20

and 39, whereas the corresponding figure

for the U.S. population as a whole

is 27 percent. The influx of working-age

immigrants is a factor that pushes the

working-age share of the population in

the United States to decline more slowly

than in many other developed countries

that have more restrictive immigration

policies. Liberalizing immigration policy,

especially for skilled migrants, could

provide a further boost to the size and

quality of the U.S. workforce.

Countervailing public policies

and business practices

Public and private policymakers in the

United States can also adopt policies that

will adapt to the demographic changes

that lay ahead.

Human capital policy. Whether or not

there is any skills gap right now, it is

clear that the fortunes of the U.S. are

tied closely to the education, training,

and health of its future workforce. The

projected decline in the working-age

share of the U.S. population associated

with population aging can be offset by

investments in schooling and health.

Such investments have the potential to

magnify the size of the effective labor

force insofar as more and better education

and better health results in more

productive adults. Investments can also

be disproportionately directed toward

minority populations to promote their

employment, productivity, and earnings

and stem the tide of further increases in

income inequality.

Retirement policy. Life expectancy in

the U.S. has increased much faster than

the normal age of eligibility for full

Social Security benefits. This disparity

suggests that raising the retirement age

is a natural approach to addressing the

tightening of the labor market that may

be expected to accompany population

aging. Indeed, expectations of greater

longevity are plausibly associated with

the desire to work to later ages, which

may account for recent increases in the

legal age of retirement in a number of

wealthy industrial countries—including

the scheduled increase in the U.S.

from 65 (for people born prior to 1938)

to 67 (for people born after 1959). On

the other hand, life expectancy at age 65

for male Social Security-covered workers

in the upper half of earners rose from

15.5 years for the cohort born in 1912 to

21.5 years for the cohort born in 1941,

a gain of 6.0 years. By contrast, the corresponding

gain for earners in the lower

half of the distribution was less than 1.5

years. These data suggest that raising

the retirement age beyond the two-year

increase that has already occurred would

impose a greater relative burden on low

than high earners.


Human resource practices. Business has

been slow to plan for population aging,

but delay won’t be an option for much

longer. Unemployment is high now, but

as the recovery proceeds, labor markets

will tighten and companies will

have little choice but to welcome older

employees. Indeed, prompt action to

harness—and enhance—the contributions

of older workers will be seen as a

key competitive advantage.

Older employees who wish to keep

working may demand flexible roles and

schedules. Allowing more part-time

work and telecommuting will entice

older workers to stay on, extending their

careers by placing lighter burdens on

them. Allocating demanding physical

tasks to younger employees will produce

a similar benefit.

Ongoing training, meanwhile, will help

older workers master new skills as the

economy changes. And employees’ longer

working lives give companies the

benefit of greater productivity gains from

their training investments.

Wellness programs produce healthier

employees at all ages; on-site clinics save

workers time and tend to lead to more

prevention and early detection of illness

and disease, which also lowers costs.

Last, moving from pay systems that

are seniority-based to ones that give

increased weight to performance will

likely lead to a relaxation of corporate

norms surrounding age at retirement.

Conclusion

The U.S. population will continue to

grow at a robust pace in the decades

ahead, ensuring a steady flow of new

entrants to the workforce. But the combination

of population aging and the fact

www.popconnect.org

that low-education and low-skill racial

and ethnic minorities will make up an

ever-larger portion of the workforce is

raising worries about future worker and

skill shortages and about the macroeconomic

performance of the U.S. economy,

especially when compared to the BRICs

(Brazil, Russia, India, and China).

But demography need not be destiny.

As the debate surrounding the recent

U.S. election brought to the fore, there

are wide-ranging views of the public

and private policy options that offer

the most potent means of adapting to

the new demographic contours of U.S.

society. These include finding the means

and will to control health costs for the

aging population. They also must consist

of educational policies at the federal and

local levels that encourage learning that

meets the needs of our changing workforce

and the technological demands

they will confront at work, whether in

manufacturing or service jobs.

In this regard, now is the moment to

confront the character of American

“The projected decline

in the working-age share

of the U.S. population

associated with

population aging can be

offset by investments in

schooling and health.

Such investments have the

potential to magnify the

size of the effective labor

force insofar as more

and better education and

better health results in

more productive adults.”

education—to make elementary and

secondary education appropriate to the

development of skill and learning that

the multicultural youth of America will

require. It is also time to make a serious

assessment of the state of American

public and private higher education.

Colleges and universities have been the

pride of America since the creation of

land grant colleges and the GI bill after

World War II. But now we need to reassess

how these institutions might change

to serve the country’s needs in light of

its changing population and the technological

changes to come.

There is also a need to rethink the role

of older Americans in society. It is not

only a matter of reinforcing the Social

Security System to ensure its viability

and providing quality health care at

a sustainable cost. It is also rethinking

how older Americans can contribute to

society both through paid work and as

volunteers for as long as they are able.

Finally, this is the moment to consider

immigration policies that both sustain

the openness of the United States and

ensure that newcomers can be assimilated

as citizens who make needed social

and economic contributions.

The predictability of demographic trends

is a powerful tool in policymakers’ arsenal.

Being able to peer into the crystal

ball improves our capacity to plan and

devise both proactive and reactive strategies

for heading off problems and taking

advantage of potential opportunities. In

that way, the demographic lens can help

guide us to the economic future to which

we aspire.

Sources for this article available on our website:

www.popconnect.org/December2012

December 2012 — The Reporter

17


Article Title

Article Author

Economic Consequences of

Population Aging in the U.S.

18 The Reporter — December 2012


www.popconnect.org

A large rally was held at the Wang Center in Boston on

Nov. 9, 2011 to protest proposed cuts to Social Security,

Medicare, and Medicaid. Photo: John Tlumacki/The

Boston Globe via Getty Images

By Ronald Lee, Ph.D.

Departments of Demography and Economics

University of California, Berkeley

The United States, like all rich industrial

nations, will experience substantial aging of

its population in the coming decades, even

though its population is expected to continue to

grow at a modest pace throughout the 21 st century.

If population growth were to cease, population

aging would be more rapid. In this article, I will

discuss the economic consequences of population

aging in the U.S., drawing heavily on a report of the

National Research Council (NRC) on the long-term

macroeconomic consequences of population aging,

produced by a committee that I co-chaired. However,

the views expressed here are my own, not those of the

Committee or the NRC.

We naturally think of longer life as the root cause of

population aging in the U.S. and elsewhere. Focusing

on longevity leads to the idea that we should adjust

our individual life cycles, for example working longer

or saving more. But population aging goes beyond

changes in the individual life cycle and refers to the

population as a whole. Population aging is certainly

due in part to longer life, but it is also due to lower

fertility and the slower population growth it causes.

In the U.S., the timing of population aging is much

affected by our massive baby boom generation, which

has just begun to turn 65, and which is beginning to

raise rapidly the share of the older population. Low

fertility and the aging of the baby boomers mean

that our economic adjustments will need to be much

greater than those that would be sufficient to compensate

for longer life.

Trends in life expectancy in the U.S. and in other

industrial nations are shown in Chart 1 (next page).

Around 1950, the U.S. was close to the leaders in

longevity, but over the past 60 years our progress has

been slow and we have moved to the bottom. Our life

expectancy of 78 is five years less than Japan’s at 83.

Looking to the future, the red line shows the projection

of the Social Security Actuary that life expectancy

will rise to 82.2. However, the NRC Committee concluded

that life expectancy was likely to rise about 50

December 2012 — The Reporter

19


percent faster than that, to 84.5 years in

2050, as shown by the short blue line,

and consequently that the population

would age more rapidly.

Partly because of living longer, and partly

because of retiring earlier, the ratio of

years spent in retirement compared to

working also grew from 35 percent in

1962 to 41 percent in 2010, and is projected

to reach 52 percent by 2050, which

would mean that the average individual

would work two years for each year spent

in retirement.

Th e other major source of population

aging is low fertility. Fertility in the U.S.

has been at 2.0 or 2.1 births per woman

for a long time, although the recession

has brought it down to 1.9 more recently.

In other rich industrial nations in Europe

and East Asia, it has long been far lower,

averaging around 1.5 or 1.6. For this

reason, the population is younger in

the U.S., and it will age less rapidly in

the coming decades. Chart 2 shows the

proportion of the population age 65 and

over in the U.S. and other rich countries.

We see that in 1950, France was the oldest

of these countries, while the U.S. was

in the middle of the pack and Japan was

the youngest by far. Over the decades,

though, the U.S. aged less rapidly and

is now the youngest and is projected

to remain the youngest through 2050.

Japan, on the other hand, has aged very

rapidly due to its swift fertility decline

and very long life expectancy. It is the

oldest now and is expected to remain

the oldest, with around 35 percent of

its population aged 65 or older, in 2050.

Th e important point is that compared to

other rich, low-mortality countries, the

U.S. is not old now and is expected to

age more slowly than the others in the

future.

But what about immigration? Is

that what is keeping the U.S. young?

Immigration does contribute, but it

20 The Reporter — December 2012

1

0.5

Life Expectancy

Percent Aged 65+

85

80

75

70

65

60

1950 1975 2000 2025 2050

40

35

30

25

20

15

10

5

0

1950 1975 2000 2025 2050

1960

0

0 10 20 30 40 50 60 70 80 90

makes less diff erence than fertility. To

get an idea of their relative roles, let’s

think about the so-called Old Age

Dependency Ratio (OADR), the ratio

of the population 65+ to the population

20-64. (Th e Committee concluded

that treating 65 as the boundary of old

age was a mistake, but in some contexts

it is hard to avoid using it in this

1

0.5

1981

0

0 10 20 30 40 50 60 70 80 90

1

0.5

Public Education

2007

Private Education

Japan

Australia

France

Spain

Italy

Canada

Germany

UK

USA

USA (SSA)

Tech Panel

Japan

Spain

Italy

Germany

Canada

France

UK

USA

Private Other

Private Health

Owned Housing

Public

Health

Public Other

0

0 10 20 30 40 50 60 70 80 90

way.) Th e OADR in the U.S. is currently

0.22, with one “older person” for

each fi ve or so “working-age” people.

Th e Committee projected that this ratio

would rise to 0.39 by 2050, or by 81 percent.

Th e number of working-age people

per older person will drop by almost

half. Now to get back to immigration,

how much would it have to increase in


Chart 1. Life expectancy at birth in selected high

income countries, and alternative projections to

2050 for the United States. SSA refers to the

2012 projection by the Social Security Trustees.

Tech Panel refers to the Technical Advisory

Panel for the Social Security Trustees, which

is appointed every four years by the Social

Security Advisory Board. The NRC Committee

projection mirrors the Tech Panel projection.

Source: This is taken from Figure 3-1 of the

prepublication version of the report of the

Committee on the Long-Run Macroeconomic

Effects of the Aging U.S. Population (2012).

Based on United Nations (2011) data.

Chart 2. Actual and projected share of the

population aged 65+ in a selection of highincome

countries, 1950-2050.

Source: This is taken from Figure 3-17 of the

prepublication version of the report of the

Committee on the Long-Run Macroeconomic

Effects of the Aging U.S. Population (2012),

based on United Nations (2011) data.

Chart 3. Consumption by age and by type in the

U.S., 1960, 1981, and 2007, measured relative

to average labor income for ages 30-49 in each

year.

Source: This is taken from Figure 3-10 of the

prepublication version of the report of the

Committee on the Long-Run Macroeconomic

Effects of the Aging U.S. Population (2012).

Originally from Lee and Donehower, National

Transfer Accounts.

Right: Robert Lambert, a blind worker at Blind

Industries and Services of Maryland, operates

the controls of a machine that spreads out fabric

to be cut into pieces for military uniforms in

Baltimore, Maryland on Friday, Jan. 13, 2012.

Each year BISM provides programs and services

that serve over 2,000 blind Maryland citizens.

Photo: Jay Mallin/Bloomberg via Getty Images

order to reduce the OADR in 2050 from

0.39 to 0.35, or by about 10 percent? The

Committee calculated that this would

require an average annual increase of 69

percent in the rate of net immigration,

meaning there would be nearly 1 million

more immigrants every year than there

are currently. By contrast, to achieve

this reduction through fertility would

www.popconnect.org

require that women have an additional

0.5 births, a 25 percent increase in fertility.

Neither of these changes seem

very likely. Indeed, the Committee concluded

that it was almost certain (97.5

percent probability) that the OADR

would rise by at least 60 percent by 2050.

Population aging is not going to go away.

We had better plan for it.

In addition to the aging population, it

turns out that our consumption has also

been aging in the sense that older people

now consume much more relative

to younger people than used to be the

case. The dramatic changes can be seen

in Chart 3, which shows the sum of private

consumption by age plus publicly

provided in-kind transfers such as health

December 2012 — The Reporter

21


A trend toward smaller families in the past

few decades has lowered the U.S. fertility rate,

contributing to slower population growth and

population aging. This page: Pamela Wasserman,

Vice President for Population Education, with

her husband and son. Opposite: Brian Dixon,

Vice President for Media and Government

Relations, with his wife and son.

care, education, and long-term care (but

not Social Security benefits, which are

income and need not be consumed).

Compared to a 20-year-old, an 80-yearold

consumed twice as much in 2007 as in

1960. Much of this change was due to the

growing cost of publicly provided health

care, and also growing private health care

spending. This increasingly costly consumption

by the elderly compounds the

economic cost of population aging.

Coming back to the OADR, it is based

on an arbitrary age boundary of 65, and

treats everyone above that boundary as

a dependent, and everyone below it as a

worker, while of course neither assumption

is correct. Another approach is to

estimate what the average person consumes

at each age, as in Chart 3, and also

estimate what the average person earns

from work. These age profiles reflect the

differences between people, some working

in old age and some out of the labor

force in their 40s. We can use these age

profiles to weight the age distribution of

the population, calculating the “effective

consumers” and “effective workers” in

this way. The ratio of effective workers to

effective consumers is the support ratio.

As the population ages, there are more

people who consume more than they

earn, and the support ratio drops.

The support ratio is projected to decline

by 12 percent between now and 2050, or

by about 0.3 percent per year. This means

that other things being equal (such as

saving rates), consumption will grow 0.3

percent slower than it would otherwise

between now and mid-century. If productivity

were to grow at 1.5 percent per

22 The Reporter — December 2012

year, for example, consumption would

grow at 1.2 percent per year. The decline

in the support ratio in the U.S. will be

much lower than in most rich countries

where declines of 0.6 percent to 0.8 percent

per year are common. The support

ratio reflects both private and public

consumption by age, and its projected

decline will be fairly modest. But the

costs of population aging are focused on

the public sector programs for the elderly

like Social Security, Medicare, and institutional

Medicaid, which make up just

a fraction of the national economy. The

impact of aging on these programs will

be proportionately much larger.

Whether the impact of aging is large

or small, it must be born in one way or

another. Viewed broadly, there are four

options: consume less during the working

years and increase savings for old age;

consume less during the working years

and pay higher taxes to fund the government

transfer programs; reduce public

benefits for the elderly; and increase the

labor force by delaying retirement or

raising the participation of women and

other younger people. The task for policymakers

is to choose an appropriate mix

of these four options.

Later retirement would at most be one

element among others in a larger policy

response. Focusing on later retirement, it

is important to consider the health status

of the older population. The proportion

of the population by age who report

themselves to be in very good or excellent

health declines strongly with age,

and is substantially higher for those with

more education. Because enrollment

rates increased decades ago, the current

proportion of the older population with


more than a high school education has

risen steadily, and will more than double

between 1985 and 2025, promoting

improved health among the elderly. In

fact, disability rates at older ages did

decline steadily during the 1980s and

1990s, raising the ability of older people

to enjoy life and to work. Unfortunately,

this trend appears to have flattened over

the last decade, and some studies have

found rising disability at ages 40 to 64,

so the future outlook is uncertain.

However, health is not the main limitation

on work at older ages. Half of

men not working at ages 70-74 have no

health impairment, and more than half

at ages 65-69. So far as health is concerned,

labor force participation could

be more than half again higher, even

for men with no more than high school

education. Looking ahead to 2050, a

www.popconnect.org

study commissioned by the Committee

found very little change in the proportion

of the population at ages 20-74 that

could work, after taking account of all

the expected changes with population

aging, increasing educational attainment,

increasing proportions Latino, increasing

obesity, and so on. Later retirement is

definitely an option, although ill health,

disability, and shorter lives are more

prevalent among those in lower income

groups, and their rights and welfare must

be protected.

Throughout the 20 th century, the age at

retirement in the U.S. dropped steadily

by more than 10 years, until the 1980s,

when it stabilized. Around 1995, however,

the age at retirement began to rise,

and since then has risen by about 1.5

years for both men and women. Probably

the main reason for this increase has

been the change in employer-provided

pensions from the traditional defined

benefit kind to defined contribution,

IRA, and Keogh plans. Unlike most

defined benefit plans, these others provide

no incentives for early retirement,

and in addition, they shift investment

risk and longevity risk to the individual.

December 2012 — The Reporter

23


Right: Dr. Olveen Carrasquillo, Chief of

General Internal Medicine, University of

Miami, conducts a checkup on Juan Gonzalez

at the University of Miami’s Miller School of

Medicine. Dr. Carrasquillo said that anyone

who wants to roll back the gains made by the

overhaul of the health care law should spend one

morning in a public hospital. Photo: Joe Raedle/

Getty Images

Opposite, top: Women working at a jewelry

manufacturing division. Photo: Pavel Losevsky,

Dreamstime.com

Opposite, bottom: Alejandra Aguilar, Kulsoom

Fazal, Karen Rivas, and Elise Rossi, freshman at

Northern Virginia Community College, during

chemistry lab class. Photo: Bill O’Leary/The

Washington Post via Getty Images

Based on legislation from the 1980s,

the Social Security full retirement age is

already in the process of rising from 65

to 67. If policymakers wished to encourage

longer work in other ways, a number

of policies have been suggested. One is

to introduce a new “paid-up” status for

workers who have paid payroll tax for 35

or 40 years. They would not have to pay it

on further earnings, which would effectively

raise their real wages by 15 percent.

Another suggestion is that Medicare be

made the primary insurer for workers 65

and over, which would greatly reduce the

health insurance costs to employers of

older workers. Both these policies would

raise the incentives for employers to hire

older people, and for older people to continue

to work. This would raise GDP, but

it would have mixed effects on government

costs and revenues with uncertain

net fiscal outcomes.

One might wonder whether increased

labor supply by older workers would

take jobs from younger people. The

Committee concluded it would not,

any more than the enormous expansion

of the female labor force since World

War II has displaced male workers and

raised their unemployment. Various

international comparisons and analyses

of country case studies support this conclusion,

although during a recession the

situation is likely different.

24 The Reporter — December 2012

I will summarize more briefly some of

the other conclusions of the Committee.

One important question is whether an

aging labor force will be less productive or

less innovative than a younger one. Much

uncertainty surrounds this question, but

the Committee did not find convincing

evidence that this was likely to be a problem.

Another important question is how

adequately older people have prepared

for retirement. Studies have used different

concepts of adequacy and different

analytic methods to arrive at estimates

that between one-fifth and two-thirds of

older people have under-saved for retirement.

Either way, a substantial number

of people is inadequately prepared. These

studies all assume that Social Security

and Medicare benefits will be paid as

scheduled in the future, and due to fiscal

pressures, this seems unlikely to be

the case. They assume the same about

private and public employer-provided

pension plans, many of which are seriously

underfunded. For these reasons,

the estimates of the proportions with

inadequate savings are probably too low.

There has been much concern that population

aging would lead to a collapse of

asset prices and rates of return as older

people tried to sell off their assets, or tried

to switch out of equities and into bonds.

The Committee noted that asset markets

are global, other than for housing, and

that the global population is aging. They

also noted that on the one hand, population

aging would boost the accumulation

of private wealth and assets, but that it

would also tend to drive up government

debt, with the net effect unclear. On balance,

the Committee expected that there

would be little effect of population aging

on asset prices and returns.

Population aging will exert its greatest


pressure on the public sector, tending

to generate progressively larger deficits

through the large public transfer programs

for the elderly. The public sector is

also important because it is through the

public programs and taxes that policy

can influence retirement age or employers’

demand for older labor, change the

relative consumption of the elderly

compared to younger age groups, or

influence which age groups or generations

bear the costs of population aging.

It is well known that the biggest fiscal

problem is health care spending through

Medicare and Medicaid. Population is

one factor raising these expenditures, but

increased costs per enrolled person are

also very important. The future course

of these costs per enrollee is uncertain,

particularly in the wake of health care

reform. Many other uncertainties also

cloud projections of government deficits

in coming decades. The Committee

asked how large an adjustment would

be needed to keep the ratio of federal

debt to GDP constant at its 2011 level.

According to an optimistic scenario, an

immediate adjustment maintained every

year through 2050 would require 1.1

percent of GDP in reduced benefits or

increased taxes. But a pessimistic scenario

would require a much larger 4.8

percent of GDP. In both cases, though,

the needed adjustment would be much

smaller if it were begun immediately

rather than waiting another 20 years, at

which point the adjustment would have

to be larger, by 1.3 to 2.9 percent of GDP.

Population aging will pose economic

challenges, particularly for the public

sector, but these challenges can be met

by a range of policy options that might

include increased labor supply by women

and older people, in addition to adjustments

to savings behavior, taxes, and

benefits. We should act sooner rather

than later to choose and implement

some mix of these broad policy options,

both to control the costs of adjustment

and to avoid passing most of these costs

on to later generations.

www.popconnect.org December 2012 — The Reporter 25


WashingTon VieW

The election is over, and family

planning supporters across

the country—and around the

world—have reason to celebrate.

The outcome of this election means that

millions of women and families, both

in the developing world and here in the

United States, will not lose their access

to vital family planning services.

We know now that the Gag Rule will

not come back this January, cutting off

funding to many of the most effective

and experienced family planning providers

in the developing world and denying

millions of women access to lifesaving

reproductive health care. We know that

the United Nations Population Fund

(UNFPA) will still receive support from

the United States for its work promoting

gender equality and universal access to

family planning services. And we know

that although the long-term budget fight

is certainly not over, the outcome of this

election makes it far less likely that our

bilateral international family planning

programs will suffer dramatic cuts.

Here at home, we know now that the

Affordable Care Act will be fully implemented,

expanding access to preventive

care and family planning to more women

than ever before. The largest legislative

victory of President Obama’s first term,

26 The Reporter — December 2012

The Election and Why it Matters

By Stacie Murphy

as well as an enormous part of his ultimate

legacy, these new benefits have

the potential to revolutionize women’s

health care in the United States, dramatically

decreasing rates of unintended

pregnancy and helping every American

woman take control of her fertility and

her life. We can also be confident that

congressional meddling will not be able

to cripple Planned Parenthood, and that

the organization will be able to continue

reaching out to underserved populations

across the country.

The results of the election tell us a

few other things, as well. We know

that although “women’s issues” weren’t

the only thing that mattered when

Americans went to the polls, they were a

crucial part of this election. After a year

during which it seemed like you could

hardly go a week without hearing about

some politician or pundit saying something

stupid about women and their

bodies, the American public finally had

a chance to respond. And just what was

that response? Todd Akin, who touched

off a firestorm with his comments about

pregnancy and “legitimate rape,” lost his

race. So did Richard Mourdock, with

his pronouncement that rape pregnancies

(wait, hasn’t he heard that those

are just urban legends?!) are gifts from

god. Congressman Joe Walsh insisted

that abortion bans with no “life of the

mother” exception are fine because there

is no such thing as a truly life-threatening

pregnancy (more on that in a

moment). His seat went to a pro-choice

woman, who beat him by more than nine

points.

Despite a definite win at the polls, it

remains to be seen how much forward

progress will be possible over the next

two years. Fundamentally, the makeup

on Capitol Hill remains the same; family

planning supporters are a firm majority

in the Senate, while opponents control

the House. At a minimum, however,

the outcome of the election means that

the progress of the last four years will be

preserved.

And a Note In Memoriam

This column is called Washington View

for a reason. We generally focus on

the politics and policy of family planning,

and we usually don’t stray too far

outside of Washington, DC. But in mid-

November, a story came out of Ireland

that has swept around the world and

brought home why the fight for true

reproductive freedom still matters everywhere.

I want to say something about it,

because I think it deserves our attention,

and because I think it does tell us something

about the nature of the abortion

fight in this country.


Savita Halappanavar was a 31-year-old

Indian woman living in Ireland with

her husband. At 17 weeks pregnant, she

began experiencing severe back pain and

went to the hospital. Told that she was

miscarrying and with no chance for a

live birth, Savita, in immense pain, asked

her doctors to terminate the pregnancy.

Ireland’s notoriously strict abortion laws

do have a “life of the mother” exception,

but that exception is so unclear that no

one really knows which circumstances

qualify. In Savita’s case, doctors told her

that because her fetus still had a heartbeat

and she wasn’t in imminent danger

of dying, there was nothing they could

do. And so they told her to wait. For

three more days, her husband reported,

that is what she did: in increasing pain,

knowing her much-wanted baby would

not live, and pleading with the doctors

to finish what her body could not.

Finally, once they could no longer detect

a fetal heartbeat, the doctors complied.

But by then Savita had developed blood

poisoning, a known risk of delayed or

incomplete miscarriage. She went into

multiple organ failure and died a week

later.

Her death has sparked outrage around

the world and calls for a review of

Ireland’s abortion laws. Such a review

is past due and would certainly be very

welcome. But the fact that someone had

to die for it to happen is breathtaking.

Thanks to modern medicine, most people

in the developed world have come to

view pregnancy and childbirth as fundamentally

safe activities. And that relative

safety means that a lot of people (looking

at you, Joe Walsh) discount the importance

of access to family planning and

abortion services. Savita Halappanavar’s

death is shocking because it was utterly

preventable. It resonates with those of

us who fight abortion restrictions in this

country because it demonstrates that

the existence of modern medicine isn’t

enough to save lives if cultural or legal

barriers mean doctors can’t or won’t

use it. It is a reminder that without the

safety net, pregnancy and childbirth are

dangerous.

The women of the developing world have

never had the luxury of forgetting this

fact. In the developed world as a whole,

the lifetime risk of dying in childbirth is 1

in roughly 3,800. In sub-Saharan Africa,

it is 1 in 34. In the developing world,

pregnancy and childbirth are the number

one cause of death for girls between

the ages of 15 and 19. Hundreds of millions

of women spend their entire lives

living with this very real threat hanging

over them. And thanks to lack of access

to family planning, safe abortion services,

and skilled maternity care, way too

many of them die. Worldwide, there are

more than 287,000 women who die due

to pregnancy and childbirth complications

every year. They are all real people

with families and futures, and their loss

is no less tragic for being less reported

than Savita’s.

Her death is also a reminder that this

struggle is about more than tallying victories

and defeats. There is a real cost

to the dismissive attitudes toward family

planning displayed by its opponents.

Thoughtless, callous words cost a few

politicians their elections. I am deeply

heartened by this fact. Not because it

changes the win percentage, but because

it signals that there is a fundamental

awareness among Americans that policy

and politics matter because they translate

to real human lives saved and lost.

www.popconnect.org December 2012 — The Reporter 27


field & ouTreaCh

We spent this fall busily

trekking across the country,

coordinating a variety of

events to reach hundreds of activists

throughout the U.S. It was a whirlwind

period of travel that allowed us to cement

ourselves further into the communities

where we work. Given our opponents’

pre-election political rancor toward

family planning, it was a particularly apt

time to highlight barriers to access.

Our first stop was the 4 th International

EcoSummit, which was held in

Columbus, Ohio from September 30

through October 5. The EcoSummit, a

gathering of ecologists from 70+ countries

around the globe, featured keynote

addresses, panel discussions, and poster

presentations on a variety of environmental

topics. The summit also featured

an exhibit hall showcasing nonprofit

organizations, eco-businesses, government

agencies, and academic institutions.

Our spot in the exhibition hall gave us

the opportunity to speak with several

hundred participants about population

issues and the criticality of affordable

access to family planning for all. Despite

the fact that this was a conference about

sustainability, there seemed to be very

little focus on population. Many conference

attendees were frustrated by this

and expressed gratitude that we were

28 The Reporter — December 2012

A Frenzy of Fall Grassroots Events

By Rebecca Harrington

there to give voice to the issue throughout

the week.

Our next trip took us to Seattle, where

we had the opportunity to speak to 21

Environmental Studies students at

Seattle University. It is always a pleasure

to visit the Seattle U. campus, where we

have built strong ties over the past couple

of years through students who have

attended Capitol Hill Days here in DC.

The students were very engaged, asked

thoughtful questions, and were eager to

learn more about the health, environmental,

and social impacts of population

growth. The professor appreciated our

presentation and was committed to our

mission and programming. He will be

assisting us with recruitment for the

2013 Capitol Hill Days weekend.

12 th & Delaware

In mid-October, we returned to

Columbus to host a screening and discussion

of the documentary 12 th &

Delaware. The film examines the ongoing

tension at an intersection in Fort

Pierce, Florida, which houses an abortion

clinic on one side of the street and

a crisis pregnancy center on the other.

Through interviews with the directors

of both clinics, as well as footage of

them with their patients, the filmmakers

highlight the distinct perspectives of

each organization. These divergent views

chillingly illustrate the forces that create

barriers to reproductive health care in

this country. We co-hosted the screening

of 12 th & Delaware at the Gateway

Film Center in Columbus with our

long-standing partners at the Columbus

International Film and Video Festival, as

well as NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio and

Women Have Options, the Ohio statewide

abortion fund.

We were grateful to be joined for the discussion

by Ohio State Senator Charleta

Tavares. Sen. Tavares talked about all of

the progress that has been made on family

planning and reproductive health and

encouraged audience members to exercise

their voting power, to be informed

about the views of their elected officials,

and to weigh candidates’ positions

on family planning before voting. The

crowd of nearly 50 was eager to discuss

the film, and we were fortunate to have

time for many smaller, more personal

conversations at the reception following

the screening.

One audience member, Pat Marida,

is a loyal supporter of Population

Connection and is also very active with

the Sierra Club Central Ohio Group. Pat

heavily promoted this event to her local

contacts. She described her experience in

the following way: “This movie was an

eye-opener to the unethical practices of


‘pregnancy care’ center volunteers, who

made empty promises of rent and medical

expense payment to deter women

from abortions. One obsessed man

seemed quite dangerous.”

Another participant, Marium Husain, a

medical resident at Riverside Methodist

Hospital in Columbus and a dedicated

supporter of ours, noted, “As heated as

this recent political season has been, it’s

refreshing to see a movie that provides

a real portrayal of how politics

manifests at the human level

in a small town that could be

anywhere in the U.S. The documentary

showed both sides

to the abortion debate and

left it to viewers to decide and

form their own opinions. We

need more media that provides

facts and reality instead

of pandering. I appreciated the

opportunity to see this documentary

in a public setting

where we all had the chance

to voice our opinions. It was

especially beneficial to have a

local state senator participate

in the discussion! I’m really

glad I attended this event.”

In early November, we again

screened 12 th & Delaware,

this time at the University of

Minnesota in Minneapolis.

We co-sponsored the event with the

school’s Medical Students for Choice

(MSFC), a committed group of activists

who have been strong partners of

ours for several years. Fifty-five students

took time from their busy days to join us

for a lunchtime viewing and discussion.

This screening was particularly insightful

for our staff, as the medical students

brought their clinical perspectives to

the table. The students had strong—and

sometimes vocal—reactions to some

of the scenes in the film. The dismayed

laughter that erupted when crisis pregnancy

center employees were discussing

potential health risks of abortion, such as

increased risk of breast cancer, confirmed

that these employees (who possess no

medical training) are either hopelessly

misinformed or deliberately misleading

their hapless victims.

Reflecting on the event, Erin Lips, one

of the co-presidents of MSFC, shared

the following thoughts: “The screening

of 12 th & Delaware at the University of

Minnesota Medical School was a wellreceived

event among students from our

class, including many who do not belong

to our chapter of Medical Students for

Choice. Amid our frequent discussions

of medical ethics and culture, which

many of us begin to take for granted,

some of the conduct at the crisis pregnancy

center in the documentary was

abrasive and inappropriate. In addition,

factual inaccuracies presented by the

center via brochures and embryo models

were shocking. While there is a great

deal of moral battle over abortion care

even within the medical field, there is

little discussion about the caliber of care

at these crisis centers. This film provoked

interesting discussion between students

about the reality of the abortion battle in

the United States and globally.”

www.popconnect.org December 2012 — The Reporter 29


PoPed

Fall is the busiest season for

PopEd, when half of the

year’s teacher workshops are

presented throughout the country. No

two workshops are alike, which always

makes it interesting, and every audience

brings different perspectives and life

experiences to our training events. Our

staff has logged many miles in the school

year thus far to reach teachers and future

teachers from Seattle to Tampa, Buffalo

to Dallas, and many points in between.

Here are a few of their more memorable

moments from their recent road trips.

Carol Bliese

Teacher Training Manager

At a recent workshop for graduate

teacher candidates at the University of

Puget Sound in Tacoma, Washington,

I shared our dramatic “dot” video that

shows population growth from 1 A.D. to

the present. As the film neared present

day and the dots started flying onto the

screen, there were audible gasps, wide

staring eyes, and mumblings of “no way”

and “I knew we were growing but not

that much.” They were hooked.

The activity that created the most enthusiasm

was “A World of Difference,” a

simulation comparing the biodiversity

of a temperate forest to that of a

tropical rainforest. Using probabilities,

participants find the likelihood of various

30 The Reporter — December 2012

On the Road with PopEd

Our training staff share highlights from the Fall 2012 season

By Pamela Wasserman, Carol Bliese, Lauren Carlson, Lindsey Bailey, and Nate Wallace

species becoming extinct when acres of

the respective forests are cleared based

on population growth in the region. But

before we even got to this step, a teacher

raised her hand and commented that,

from what we saw in the “dot” video,

it looked like there was more rapid

population growth in areas of tropical

rainforests, and she wondered whether

that impacted biodiversity loss. As we

moved through the rest of the activity,

her classmates realized that she was on

exactly the right track—population is

growing faster in parts of the world that

have denser biodiversity. By the end of

the activity, she told me she was already

figuring out where to fit “A World of

Difference” into her class syllabus.

Lauren Carlson

Education Associate

This fall, my travels took me down south

to Alabama. It was my first time visiting

the state and I enjoyed meeting people

and listening to the different accents

and realizing that I, too, have an accent

(the locals commented on my upstate

New York pronunciations!). One of the

memorable workshops that week was

an evening session for a small group of

future middle and high school teachers

at Jacksonville State University. The

group was completely engaged and

shared plenty of great ideas on how they

might stretch concepts and activities

further in their own classrooms and how

to localize certain issues. As a facilitator,

that’s one of my favorite parts of the

job—seeing ideas form and workshop

participants become excited to teach

our materials. Our cultural exchange

extended even beyond the north-south

divide. The professor, Dr. Akpan, always

brings his students chin-chin, a snack

from his native Nigeria. At their urging,

I sampled chin-chin, which tastes like an

extremely hard pretzel. It was fun for me

to try something new that day, too!

Lindsey Bailey

Education Associate

While my presentations are primarily for

teachers, I recently had a rare opportunity

to work with a group of students in

an unlikely school setting—the Norfolk

Juvenile Detention Center. It was an

experience that I won’t soon forget, but

perhaps not for the reasons you may think.

When I found out that there would be

a security guard in the room at all times

during our lesson, and that I would have

to lock up all my personal items before

entering the classroom, I was a bit anxious

about what was in store. However,

instead of the tense environment I had

anticipated, I was greeted with smiles

and “good mornings” from almost every

student, and was blown away by the

level of engagement and thoughtfulness


during our time together. It was clear

that they had great teachers, who had

already taught them a bit about complex

population issues, but also that

the students were enjoying discussing

global topics like the economic needs of

a growing population, the energy use of

developing versus developed regions of

the world, and global wealth distribution.

It was really inspiring to see a group

of kids, who have clearly been through a

lot in their young lives, being excited to

discuss issues that reach far beyond the

walls of their detention center. It was a

glimpse into the end result of our work

(the impact on students), and a reminder

that we need to be reaching young people

in every setting possible. After all,

population issues will impact all of their

lives. Each and every young person has

the potential to get informed and get

involved for the greater good.

Nate Wallace

PopEd Fellow

I have only been with PopEd for a short

while, but have already racked up some

valuable teaching experiences. The first

workshop I attended was at Maryland’s

Towson University. With a bit of anxiety,

I watched Carol present, frantically

writing down all of the statistics and

hilarious jokes she used on a sheet of

paper. And then I lost the sheet of paper.

A few weeks later, we traveled south to

the University of Virginia, where I again

played the role of the silent sidekick,

soaking in what I could before my first

solo presentation. That would finally

come the next day at Virginia State

University, and after exhausting Carol

with questions like “What year did we

reach one billion again?” and “What’s

the GDP of Africa?” I felt ready. Since

those first shaky attempts, I’ve had the

opportunity to hone my skills presenting

to education classes in Texas, Delaware,

and Pennsylvania. In all these places, I’ve

met some fantastic professors and future

teachers. It’s been a great experience so

far, and I hope to have many more with

Population Connection!

PopEd staff take in the local sites in Salem,

Massachusetts before facilitating the New England

Leadership Institute in July. From left: Lindsey,

Lauren, Nate, and Carol.

Population Connection’s Education Program is the

only national population education program with a

strong emphasis on teacher training for educators

of grades pre-K through 12.

Since 1975, the program has developed ageappropriate

curricula to complement students’

science and social science instruction about human

population trends and their impacts on natural

resources, environmental quality, and human wellbeing.

We provide hands-on training to over 11,000

teachers and student teachers annually in North

America. Tens of thousands of teachers are

introducing important population concepts to

3 million students a year.

www.popconnect.org December 2012 — The Reporter 31


32 The Reporter — December 2012

CarToon


A five-year study in St. Louis, in which more than 9,250 women

ages 14 to 45 were given free birth control options and family

planning education, showed that women who have access to

affordable contraception rarely have unintended pregnancies.

Since women who don’t have unplanned pregnancies generally

don’t get abortions, the abortion rate in the St. Louis area

declined more than 20 percent from 2008 to 2010, coinciding

with the study.

Equally striking was the impact that free birth control had on

teenage pregnancy. While the national number of births to

teens is 34.3 per 1,000 girls, it was only 6.3 [births] for every

thousand teenage participants in the study, which was called

the Contraceptive Choice Project.

The Washington University contraception project showed that

after women were educated about different types of birth control,

three-quarters of them chose implantable methods.

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists says

that long-acting and reversible birth control options, such as

intrauterine devices and under-the-skin implants, are the most

effective.

Missouri legislators need to help women prevent unintended

pregnancies and abortions regardless of what their views are on

abortion. And they need to do it now.

ediTorial exCerPTs

—October 8, 2012

The Daily yomiuri

St. Louis, Missouri Tokyo, Japan

With many baby boomers turning 65 this year, the number of

Japanese aged 65 or older has topped 30 million for the first

time, accounting for 24 percent of the population.

Society as a whole must quickly make preparations to cope

with the population’s ever-accelerating pace of aging.

Many people in their golden years are willing to work. A

Cabinet Office survey found that more than 70 percent of

men and women aged 60 or older want to work even after

turning 65.

If elderly people can work and increase their income, consumption

and tax revenues will increase. This would not only

help rejuvenate the economy but also secure financial sources

for social security programs.

While the elderly population will increase, people of working

age will continue decreasing in step with the declining birth

rate. At present, there are about three people of working age

to support each elderly person; this figure is forecast to fall to

about one 50 years from now.

It is obvious that the current social security system will not be

able to withstand such developments.

Each and every member of Japanese society needs to consider

how they should live a life lasting 90 years, so they can support

themselves as much as possible even when they reach an

advanced age.

—October 2, 2012

www.popconnect.org December 2012 — The Reporter 33


Population Connection

2120 L Street, NW, Suite 500

Washington, DC 20037

Your legacy...people and the planet in balance

Have you considered leaving a legacy gift ensuring that

your commitment to zero population growth continues

well into the future? By remembering Population

Connection in your will or estate plan, you can make a

meaningful contribution to stabilizing population and

improving the quality of life for everyone, everywhere.

We also offer charitable gift annuities, which provide

guaranteed life income and significant tax advantages.

We are proud to honor our legacy donors as members

of The ZPG Society. For more information, please

contact Shauna Scherer, Director of Development, at

sscherer@popconnect.org or (202) 974-7730.

If you’ve already included Zero Population Growth (ZPG) in your estate plans, there is no need to

change any language. We proudly maintain the name and the mission.

34 The Reporter — December 2012

NON PROFIT ORG

US POSTAGE PAID

POPULATION CONNECTION

Population Connection members Katharine and Julian Donahue,

visiting Iguazu Falls in Brazil.

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