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The Age of Aging: How Demographics are Changing the Global Economy and Our World


The extension of human life expectancy is a great blessing. But, together with declining fertility rates, it creates no less big challenges. In this wide-ranging and well-informed book, George Magnus analyzes what needs to be done to lift the burdens created by aging populations.
Martin Wolf, Chief Economics Commentator, Financial Times

It is a commonplace that, as the population of the developed world ages, there will be all kinds of profound changes in the way the world works. No one to date, however, has sat down and tried to think harder about the ramifications of increased life expectancy and smaller family size than George Magnus. Bringing to the subject decades of work as one of the City’s best respected economists, Magnus shows himself here to be more than just a shrewd analyst of social and economic trends. He writes with clarity and panache, and leaves the reader feeling almost sorry for the “Boomerangst” generation that is fated to support the prolonged retirements of the Boomers themselves.
–Niall Ferguson, Laurence A. Tisch Professor of History, Harvard University; William Ziegler Professor of Business Administration, Harvard Business School

Demography is boring to most people, except when it comes to their own expected longevity and retirement plans. Demography is, however, destiny for countries. Literally. George Magnus provides a global tour de force of how we got to where we are and where we will be in the years ahead. And most importantly, what policymakers need to do NOW to prepare. In his hands, George makes this subject not only not boring but both enlightening and entertaining. A must read!
Paul McCulley, Managing Director, Pimco

George Magnus is an author with a magnificent, truly globe-spanning mind—and the rare gift of lucidity, which benefits expert and non-expert readers alike. His book, The Age of Aging provides a powerful guide to humanity’s future.
Stephan Richter, Editor-in-Chief, The

George Magnus is the senior economic adviser at UBS Investment Bank and has held this position since 2005. Before this, he was the bank’s chief economist with effect from the merger between UBS and Swiss Bank Corporation in 1998, leading a team of professional economists to the highest accolades in the Institutional Investor and other industry analyst surveys. His previous responsibilities involved senior macroeconomic and managerial positions in Union Bank of Switzerland, SG Warburg and Bank of America. Mr. Magnus’ research is widely known and respected in the financial services community and the business media in the United States, Asia and Europe. He was one of very few to articulate at the beginning of 2007 that a major credit crunch in the United States and the West was likely, with damaging and long-lasting economic consequences around the world. He lives and works in London, is married, and has four children.



Chapter 1: Introducing a new age.

Everyone is affected everywhere.

The demographic debate laid bare.

Differing prospects for richer and poorer nations.

Demographics and other global trends.


Chapter 2: Population issues from Jesus Christ to aging and climate change.

Population take-off, Malthus, and Marx.

Fertility debate gathers significance.

Falling fertility, family structures, and modern times.

Climate change, food, oil, and water join the fray.

Food and oil supplies.

Water shortages too?

What happened to the dominant species?


Chapter 3:The age of aging.

Global population changes.

Your world party guestlist.

Three stages of ages.

Aging and dependency.

What about the workers?

Dependency ratios for the old and the young are not comparable.

The demographic dividend for poorer countries.



Chapter 4: The economics of aging—what is tobe done?

How the rich world isaging.

Will labor shortage scrimp growth?

Is it possible to boost the supply of workers?

Raising participation and immigration.

Women to work.

Can we strengthen brain as well as brawn?

Working longer to retirement.

Youth trends sap economic strength.

How much immigration?

Productivity is the holy economic grail.

Will we be able to finance retirement?

Saving less with age, saving less anyway.

Changing pension schemes.

Retirement and savings in the United States.


Chapter 5: Coming of age: United States, Japan,and Europe.

Aging in advanced economies.

Accounting for growth in Japan, western Europe, and America.

Removing the sex and age barriers to work Barriers to female employment.

Barriers to older workers in employment.

Later retirement is more than just a matter of law.

A Singaporean model for all?

Who’s for change?


Chapter 6: Will aging damage your wealth?

Will there been enough in the personal savings pot?

Savings patterns and trends in Japan.

Savings in the United States.

Savings in Europe.

Less generous pensions.

More self-reliance for retirement savings.

Government spending and more public debt.

Age-related spending: pensions.

Age-related spending: healthcare.

Age-related spending in OECD countries.

America’s healthcare and public spending explosion.

Paying for aging.

Fiscal versus fallen angels.

Will aging societies inflate or deflate?

Will aging damage your wealth?

Less buoyant returns but new opportunities.

Safe as houses?

Prime-age house buyers in decline:who will buy?

Wealthy and healthy?


Chapter 7: Waiting in the wings: aging in emerging and developing nations.

Aging faster than rich countries.

Demographic dividend and dependency.

Asian strengths and weaknesses.

Gender discrimination.

China—Middle Kingdom, middle age.

One-child policy.

Running out of cheap labor.

Economic consequences.

Growing social policy agenda.

India and its human capital.

An Asian America?

Jobs and skills are what India needs.

Russia—a failing petrostate?

Demographic decay.

Fading fertility.

Mounting mortality.

Manpower, military, and immigration.

Africa and the Middle East, banking on the dividend.

Africa: a distorted dividend?

Reasons to be optimistic regardless?

Stronger institutions, too much HIV/AIDS.

Middle East and NorthAfrica—rage, religion, and reform.

Basic population characteristics.

Angry young men in an unstable region.

The need for reform.

Believing, not belonging.

Don’t hold your breath.


Chapter 8: Where globalization and demographics meet.

Globalization is the death of distance.

Solving the globalization problem via institutions.

The globalization “trilemma”.

Negative sentiment.

Globalization and well-being: the case of HIV/AIDS.

For richer, for poorer: marriage by globalization.



Chapter 9: Will immigration solve aging society problems?

Rising hostility toward immigration.

How many immigrants and where are they?

How sustainable is higher immigrant fertility?

Economic arguments are awkward or weak.

Short-run effects positive but may not last.

Unskilled or semiskilled immigration issues.

For some, a brain drain into retirement.

Financial aspects of immigration are balanced.

Competition for migrants may be rising.



Chapter 10: Demographic issues in religion and international security.

The secular-religious pendulum swings back.

The Pyrrhic victory of secular capitalism.

Will religion get us from here to maternity?

Religious belief in the ascendant?

Secular balance can be sustained.

International security.

Demographic change and new forms of conflict.

Manpower shortages.


Epilogue: The Boomerangst generation.

The kiss of debt and other sources of angst.

Insecurity, inequality, and changing family structures.



Postscript: Population forecasting.