Gerontocracy is our future


Gerontocracy n. Rule by the elderly

When we think about the future, there are some things we can predict better than others. One of the things we have the best idea of is demographics and age distributions. There remain uncertainties such as improvements in health care and gerontology, the rise of unforeseen diseases and pandemics, and devastating war, but by and large we can be fairly confident of our demographic forecasts.

In recent keynotes I’ve done on technology in aged care and the future of the global health economy I examined the implications of future demographic profiles. The forecast profiles for 2050 for some of the world’s largest economies are shown below. Source for all of the profiles is NationMaster, an excellent repository of country information. Of all of these countries, USA is the country which will have the least imbalance to the elderly, accompanied by a dramatic shift in ethnicity of the young.

One of the many implications of these age profiles is the inevitability of gerontocracy – rule by the elderly. Given the age profiles below, it is starkly clear what segment of the population any warm-blooded vote-seeking politician will seek to woo. In other words, given a democratic future, we can expect government policies to be unmitigatedly pro-aged, with barely a look in for the young.

Fortunately I’ll be old by then.