Denmark’s Massive Demographic Headache Part II


By Thomas

Part I here.

What condition are the elderly likely to be in? (Denmark)

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We have seen that the proportion of persons out of the work force in relationship to the productive population is likely to rise from ½ to 2/3. But that was a consideration that was rather much due do to the small births.

I use Denmark as an example, not because the country is in any way particularly remarkable; but precisely because it is probably fairly average and without major disasters in a century – such as war or famine – so it is pure demografics.

In regard to pensions there was a increase from .16 elderly persons pr. person in the work force in 2000 to .29 likely in 2020.

But that is only half of the ghastly truth!

As you might glean from the curve above, there is an increase in life expectancy. Women exhibit a fairly constant improvement around 5% pr. decade for all age groups in the post-retirement part of life.

Men on the other hand experience a sharp rise in life expectancy: We are talking 12% pr. decade – they are in other words catching up with the women in mortality rate. People are stubbornly refusing to die.

We are talking an increase of the elderly population in the order of magnitude of 15% by 2020. Accurate prognostication is too risky with such volatile number. A generation ago it was said that birth rates are fickle; but death rates are fairly certain – how wrong “they” were.

We must now foresee not ¼ of an elderly per person in the working age; but a 1/3.


The next question is: What state of repair are the elderly persons going to be in?
Well the number of persons in nursing homes has reduced in five years – but that could simply due to a change in policy. A bit less influenced by politics is the number of hospital admissions.
There is no doubt that the people retiring now and the years to come are much fitter than their parents were at their age. Apparently the health condition of 75 year old today is a couple of years better than just 5 years ago.
1) From a pension perspective not only known demographics project a heavier burden on the employed than before; but also the likely change in the demographic tables are indicating that not only more are to receive pension, but they are likely to receive that pension for a longer period.
2) The cost of this longer life is not likely to be that much greater, at health related costs seems to have the lions share in the last period of life: The last ½ year you live is the last 1 year you live – irrespective of an age by death as 60 or 80.
3) The prospect is longer AND healthier life that will help soften the blow to health costs.

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