A society’s aging, or its age distribution, is normally viewed from the perspective of the number of years since birth. In this E-Brief, however, we propose an alternative: measuring age according to the number of years remaining in life.
Taking increases in longevity into account, a 35-year-old Canadian had a remaining life expectancy of 38.6 years in 1950, but 46.8 years in 2010, a difference of 8.2 years. Viewed so, the Canadian population is not getting older in the traditional sense, but “younger,” because many workers are approaching retirement age more able, and willing, to work longer than were previous
generations of Canadians.
Because many older Canadians are already deciding to retire later than the arbitrary age of 65, public policy should aim to provide Canadians with the instruments to better manage retirement decisions.
Population aging: those two words, it seems, inspire fears of different kinds. The number of retirees per active worker is steadily climbing. The problems this could engender are rather obvious: absent a significant increase in productivity, GDP growth is bound to slow down, which would exacerbate the growing stress on public finances, in particular through health expenditures.