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Aging is a transition, not a crisis - Canadians for a Sustainable Society

Canadians for a Sustainable Society is a research and activist NGO focused on changing our society’s pursuit of endless growth and ever higher levels of consumption. Simple growth is neither sustainable nor conducive to reducing inequality, debt, fiscal imbalance or achieving environmental sustainability.

Why Canada isn't hitting it's GHG Emission Targets


Aging is a Transition, Not a Crisis

Aging is a natural trend towards an increase in the proportion of older people in our population and will continue until the Canadian population stabilizes. 

The aging trend is merely part of the much larger demographic transition which has accompanied the development of our modern societies.  In this transition, life expectancy has increased from under 40 years in the 1700s to nearly 80 and the number of children per woman has decreased from 6 to near 2.

This demographic transition features:

•    lower fertility rates

•    longer life spans and

•    higher proportions of seniors


Growth Doesn't Pay For It

Aging is inevitable and simply cannot be reversed except by catastrophic population collapse or exponential population growth continuing forever.  Aging cannot be supported  endlessly by fiscal deficits with the expectation that “growth will pay for it”.  Growth does not pay for past deficits as a larger version of a debt producing fiscal structure adds on even larger debts going forward.

Immigration Can't Fix It

Very high levels of immigration has been touted as a “fix” for an aging population.  The objective of this fix seems to be to maintain forever the age structure and the rate of growth of the baby boom period.  Ie make it the 1950s forever.  Attempting to boost immigration to levels which will run ahead of the aging trend will see extreme and ever-increasing levels of immigration with little effect on the age structure.

Why? 

  • The age structure of our immigration stream is not different enough to "youthenize" our population
  • Aging is a global phenomenon

We Need a Better Strategy

Understanding the nature of the changes and modifying our expectations of endless growth are the challenges which all countries will have to meet. Canada is fortunate in that many advanced societies are decades ahead in this transition and are providing an excellent reference for the development of policies which will allow us to deal successfully with the transition to demographic stability.



The best means of dealing with a shift to a higher proportion of seniors is to boost job quality and flexibility along with wage rates.  People must be encouraged to be healthy and the concept of working well past the age previously thought of as “retirement age” must be embraced.  



Neither Business-as-Usual nor Business-as-it-Once-Was is sustainable.  Make sure your media sources and your political representatives are clear on the need for well-informed progressive change in Canadian public policy.  “More of the same” is not a viable strategy.



For more in-depth discussion on aging see our page:   http://sustainablesociety.com/population/aging#.WCuUW8kUht

 

Who are Canadians for a Sustainable Society: 

Canadians for a Sustainable Society is a research and activist NGO focused on changing our society’s pursuit of endless growth and ever higher levels of consumption.   Simple growth is neither sustainable nor conducive to reducing inequality, debt, fiscal imbalance or achieving environmental sustainability.

Our group believes that only a comprehensive strategy with relevant national metrics and clear goals can deliver long term social stability and environmental balance.

For reference: 

Jason Kenney in his Backgrounder for his immigration hearing in 2011

 “That being said, research underscores that immigration is not a viable remedy for population aging. A 2009 study by the C.D. Howe Institute concludes that improbably huge increases in immigration (i.e. from the current 0.8% to nearly 4% ** of the population) in the short term would be required to stabilize Canada’s current old-age dependency ratio.”



Backgrounder  -  Stakeholder Consultations on Immigration Levels and Mix

http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/department/media/backgrounders/2011/2011-07-11.asp



Library of Parliament  - Immigration to Canada pdf  PRB0350-e  - Page 9 

 “Finally it is worth noting that in 2000, the UN Population Division conducted a study of whether replacement migration could solve the problem of population aging and decline.  Using a scenario that simulates the migration required to maintain the dependency ratio the study concluded that the level of immigration to offset population aging would have to be much higher than in the past.  For example the United States would have to admit 592 million immigrants between 2000 and 2050 to keep its dependency steady.  The population of the United States was 274 million in 2000.  This would mean nearly 11 million immigrants each year, compared with 1.5 million at present – not a very realistic scenario”

**The Math: 4% = 1.5 million per
year or 7 new City of Torontos every 10 years, 

Compound growth – doubling every 17 years for a population of 36 billion in 2170

 
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Comments

It seems to be as difficult to persuade people of that endless growth is not the answer as it was once to convince society and authorities that the Earth was not the centre of the Universe or the solar system.