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LTC Bullet:

Global Aging...Brave Old World!

Thursday May 6, 1999


*This Bullet comes courtesy of The Center for Strategic and International Studies*

The Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) has begun an important new project to examine the cross-national effects of the simultaneous aging of the major industrial nations. Led by a commission of international leaders in economics, finance, the health sciences, and politics, the Global Aging Initiative (GAI) is an ambitious attempt to put aging policy on the diplomatic agenda.

Behind this effort lies the growing fear that societal aging will produce an upsurge in social and economic turmoil, reflected in rising public sector deficits, chronic over-capacity, falling asset values, declining saving rates, global capital shortages, and perhaps even heightened tensions between the aging industrialized nations and a youthful developing world. This is serious stuff.

Among those associated with the project are former Vice President Walter Mondale and other senior politicos from Japan and Europe.

Although many Americans are aware of our own domestic aging crisis, little has been written about the potentially destabilizing effects of falling birthrates in Western Europe and Japan. Over the next five decades, their labor forces are projected to fall collectively by one-third. This unprecedented reversal not only will depress tax revenues, but could undermine the balance sheets insurance companies, pension funds, banks and other institutions that hold mortgages and asset backed securities.

What will this Brave Old World look like? "Try Japan," says CSIS Research Fellow Paul Hewitt. "Its seven-year slump may be the first of the great aging recessions that will plague the global economy in the twenty-first century."

Companies interested in joining this high-level investigation may contact Hewitt at CSIS (