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

George Magnus
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)

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Book Description

October 13, 2008 0470822910 978-0470822913 1
The year 2008 marks the beginning of the baby boomer retirement avalanche just as the different demographics in advanced and most developing countries are becoming more pronounced. People are worrying again that developments in global population trends, food supply, natural resource availability and climate change raise the question as to whether Malthus was right after all.

The Age of Aging explores a unique phenomenon for mankind and, therefore, one that takes us into uncharted territory. Low birth rates and rising life expectancy are leading to rapid aging and a stagnation or fall in the number of people of working age in Western societies. Japan is in pole position but will be joined soon by other Western countries, and some emerging markets including China. The book examines the economic effects of aging, the main proposals for addressing the implications, and how aging societies will affect family and social structures, and the type of environment in which the baby-boomers' children will grow up.

The contrast between the expected old age bulge in Western nations and the youth bulge in developing countries has important implications for globalization, and for immigration in Western countries - two topics already characterized by rising discontent or opposition. But we have to find ways of making both globalization and immigration work for all, for fear that failure may lead us down much darker paths. Aging also brings new challenges for the world to address in two sensitive areas, the politicization of religion and the management of international security. Governments and global institutions will have to take greater responsibilities to ensure that public policy responses are appropriate and measured.

The challenges arising within aging societies, and the demographic contrasts between Western and developing countries make for a fractious world - one that is line with the much-debated 'decline of the West'. The book doesn't flinch from recognizing the ways in which this could become more visible, but also asserts that we can address demographic change effectively if governments and strengthened international institutions are permitted a larger role in managing change.

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Editorial Reviews

Review

“A very readable analysis of the broad-ranging consequences of demographic trends, supplemented by quickly grasped charts and tables.” (Choice, April 2009)

Recent developments in global population trends characterized by low birth rates and rising life expectancy are leading to a graying population worldwide. Aging is bound to have pervasive effects on economic growth, inflation, house and equity prices, public spending and taxation, education and healthcare provision, and wealth distribution. (BCC Orient, Sep 08)

Macbeth tells Seyton of many things that should accompany old age, such as ‘honour, love, obedience, troops of friends’ but, on a practical note, he concedes that he would look to have, in their stead, ‘curses, not loud but deep.’ Perhaps, the ‘curse’ for today’s old threatens to come in the form of financial anguish they’d leave behind for the middle-aged ‘baby boomers’ marching in legions towards retirement, and their descendents, as a new book on ‘how demographics are changing the global economy and our world’ highlights. (The Hindu, 29/9/2008)

Now according to George Magnus, the senior economic adviser to Swiss bank UBS and the author of a newly published book called The Age of Aging, something similar may be about to happen in Europe and to a lesser extent in the US. (South China Morning Post, 23/10/2008)

OLDER job seekers, rejoice. An urban economy like Singapore
will find it easier than rural societies to rehire older workers, says economist George Magnus. It is different in China, where 60 per cent of the people live in the countryside. Rural labour is physical lnd tough, so he says it is very hard to raise the participation of older workers aged 55 to 65. Typically, ageing countries turn to older workers, women and immigrants to replenish their shrinking labour pools. (The Straits Times, 25/10/2008)

Mr George Magnus easily discerns the "perverse' pluses" of the financial upheaval of the world, having scanned economic horizons for 30 years. The economist thinks the crisis is good for the ageing world. He is pleased the crisis will compel the West to move away from its culture of debt, and start to save more instead. "For ageing societies, that's a good thing because too many people have too few savings and too little preparation for retirement," he tells Insight. (The Straits Times, 25/10/2008)

Author's Article Contribution: The financial crisis has already been tagged the worst since the banking collapse of the 1930s. Eventually, the sense of crisis will end, as governments and regulators become interventionist and try to contain the worst effects of the "de-leveraging; which will plunge the global economy into a recession over the next few quarters. That, too, will end. (Personal Money, Nov '08)

Rising life expectancy and low birth rates continue to be an issue for countries like Singapore and Japan. As the trend in graying population foreshadows huge impact in economic growth and healthcare provision, author George Magnus explores the economic issues, consequences and possible solutions to this phenomenon. (Smart Investor, Nov '08)

In his spare time, George Magnus, senior economic adviser at UBS (prior to moving to a part-time role he was the bank's chief economist), has written arguably the most comprehensive book to date on aging. The timing is perfect - 2008 is the beginning of the baby boomer retirement era, which is going to markedly change the face of global workforces. (Finance Asia, Nov '08)

Rising life expectancy and low birth rates continue to be an issue for countries like Singapore and Japan. As the trend in graying population foreshadows huge impact in economic growth and healthcare provision, author George Magnus explores the economic issues, consequences and possible solutions to this phenomenon. A senior economic adviser at UBS Investment Bank since 2005, Magnus banks on his extensive research background on the economic consequences of demographic changes. (Smart Investor, 1/11/2008)

Last week, we asked readers if they agreed with economist George Magnus' views on ageing. We also wanted to know how Singapore could do better in valuing and rehiring older workers. Here are some views: "It is never a level playing field in the open job market for older workers. Taking a cue from the handicapping system of golf, the Government's intervention is crucial in setting up an equitable framework, or even enacting statutes to maintain social order, in this creeping serious problem. (The Straits Times, 1/11/2008)

Low birth rates and rising life expectancy are leading to rapid aging and a decline in working age population in the West. Japan has already been in that position for over two decades and will be joined soon by other Western countries. This book examines the economic effects of aging, how aging societies will affect family and social structures, and the implications of what the author calls ‘long families’ rather than the erstwhile ‘wide families’. (Money Life, 6/11/2008)

I suggest two recent books not on the bestseller shelves: A Splendid Exchange: How Trade Shaped the World, by William J. Bernstein (Atlantic Monthly Press) and The Age of Aging, by George Magnus (Wiley). Trade routes and the people and goods traveling them have steered civilization. Birth rates and life expectancies, nation to nation, similarly alter global affairs: determining who and what will support whom in the future. The authors, a financial historian and a business economist, bring enlightenment in a dizzying age. (Forbes Asia, 10/11/2008)

Populations the world over are aging, with some countries aging more slowly than others. As countries enter the third stage of aging, rising longevity and low or declining fertility rates combine to make societies older. This is one of the many conclusions made by George Magnus, the author of 'The Age of Aging', who looks at how this situation will result in shrinking numbers of working-age people on a stable or declining workforce. (Business Today, Dec 2008)

Demography is the senior social science: churchgoers this week will be reminded that Jesus Christ was born in the midst of a census two millennia ago. George Magnus's The Age of Aging is an account of the great population transitions currently under way around the world. Magnus is a renowned City of London economist, now at UBS, and his new book is a guide for the general reader on how the greying of the world will change everything, everywhere. (Financial Times, 22/12/08)

Every age has its big demographic scares. In 1798, when the world’s population was about 1 billion, Thomas Malthus published his “Essay on the Principle of Population”, predicting that, thanks to mankind’s enthusiastic procreation habits, by the middle of the 19th century there would no longer be enough food to go round. In the event, people happily continued both to multiply and to eat. (The Economist, 30/12/08)

George Magnus' name has recently gained high recognition in the global economy. As senior economic advisor at UBS, he gave forewarning of the impending financial crisis to the US in an essay published March of last year. Since then, he has become one of the most sought after economic analysts of our age. (Grandeur (Chinese magazine), January 09)

It wasn't long ago that all of us were Malthusians, worrying about the human population eating through the planet's resources like locusts. George Magnus, senior economic adviser at UBS Investment Bank, warns us in a new book that opposite scenario is the truly frightening one: the human race is getting too old, especially in countries as Japan and China. (POWER, February 09)

The financial equivalent of the Malthus thesis is that the aging of the global population creates massive financial challenges for governments and societies in providing for this non-working group. The effect of growing longevity and falling birth rates means that the average age of populations increases. This will result, based on current predictions, that in 2050 the world will have about 2 billion people aged over 60, three times as many as today - around 30-40% of the total population in the developed world and 25-30% in the developing world. (Wilmott.com - Satyajit Das' Blog, 03/02/09)

We are facing an age crisis, not just because we are living longer but also because our children will have to bear the burden, yet are singularly ill-equipped to do so. A two-year study commissioned by the Children's Society, for which 35,000 youngsters were interviewed, has concluded that they are less capable than any previous generation. It blames poor education, broken homes and the "excessively individualistic ethos" of contemporary Britain. The lives of children, it says somewhat dubiously, are more difficult now than they were in the past. (Daily Telegraph, 03/02/09)

An in-depth analysis of the economic impact of aging has recently been published by George Magnus, the senior economic advisor at the Swiss UBS investment bank. In "The Age of Aging: How Demographics Are Changing the Global Economy and Our World" (John Wiley and Sons), Magnus starts by commenting that we have no precedents to guide us in this situation of a rapidly aging population. (Zenit News Agency, 01/03/09)

George Magnus, senior economic advisor at UBS and author, has opinions on a wide range of subjects. In recent months, he generated spirited debate with his book about the economic impact of aging populations. (Financial Times, Alphaville, 03/03/09)

Last November 3, Josephine Moulds wrote an article in the UK Daily Telegraph about George Magnus, senior economic adviser to Swiss bank UBS, who is widely acknowledged to have predicted that the US sub-prime mortgage crisis would trigger a global recession. (The Manila Times, 04/03/09)

For the 17 million people who are 50 or over, the ability of employers under the law to enforce retirement at 65 is a serious prob...

From the Inside Flap

The Age of Aging explores a unique phenomenon in the history of mankind, and therefore, one which is taking us all into uncharted territory. The combination of low or declining birth rates and rising life expectancy is producing rapid aging of the world’s population and stagnation in the number of people of working age in Western societies. Aging is most obvious in Japan and will soon become more visible in other Western countries and some emerging markets including China, though most poorer countries will not really encounter more severe aging issues for another 20 years. George Magnus examines the broad economic effects of aging, the main proposals for addressing the implications, and how aging societies will affect family and social structures, and the type of environment in which the baby-boomers’ children will grow up.

The contrast between the expected old age bulge in Western nations and the youth bulge in developing countries has important implications for globalization and for immigration in Western countries—two topics already characterized by rising discontent or opposition. Aging issues are also bringing new challenges for the world to address in two sensitive areas, the politicization of religion and the management of international security.

George Magnus asserts that the challenges arising from aging societies will probably not be addressed effectively unless governments assume larger economic and social involvement and responsibilities. He also argues that the global implications of demographic change, along with those of parallel concerns, such as climate change and resource scarcity, will require a more substantial role to be played by strengthened international institutions.


Product Details

  • Hardcover: 321 pages
  • Publisher: Wiley; 1 edition (October 13, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0470822910
  • ISBN-13: 978-0470822913
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6.3 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #775,143 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
36 of 38 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Demographics is Destiny June 3, 2009
Format:Hardcover
Demographics is Destiny

Despite the "aging" in the title, this 313 page text is more of a practical tour d'horizon of global demographics. Greater longevity or aging of mankind turns out to be only half of a huge future problem. The other half of the problem is that women around the globe are not making enough babies. The fertility rate is so low in most countries that humans are not replacing themselves. The problem is acute where the work force is actually shrinking. Fewer workers generate less global economic growth and wealth creation. Not good.

In my research, I contend these two demographic markers (more longevity, less fertility) are foretelling the disastrous equivalent of an asteroid hit on earth. Magnus skillfully presents lots of data and concepts to help you understand this crisis. Bravo!
Unfortunately, the public does not seem to care. Witness the fact that even though his book has been listed in Amazon.com for over six months, I am the first to review it.

You should care. Check out his first three chapters where he foretells the breadth and depth of the problem. I guarantee you will be mumbling over and over: "I didn't know that!" Chapter 4 cuts to the chase and briefly describes how these trends will impact the
economics of your life. Chapters 5,7 and 8 analyze the impact on different blocks of countries. Industrialized areas such as Europe and Japan will be crippled by this double whammy of fewer workers to support more elderly. The United States, except for the help of immigration, limps closely behind. Remember China's "one child policy"? Guess how well they fare. Only a few emerging and developing areas may survive unscathed.
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
George Magnus' "The Age of Aging" is more than just about demographics in book form, but a truly global account of the upcoming population transitions that are slowly taking place around our fine planet. While strictly demographics in book form can be a very dry subject, Mr. Magnus writes an exceptional review in a thought provoking form which is not dry at all. So why should one care about the world of demographics anyway? One very good reason is that we have no precedents to guide us for our current situation of a rapidly aging population because the world's population has always statistically been young and growing in the past. Yes, the world's population will continue to grow on the whole for a number of years, but many industrialized countries actually will soon start to have population decreases and some are already in decline.

This book is not an alarmist treatise, but the worry and concern is that many institutions are just not prepared for the aging population which might bring with it strong political currents when seniors do not get what they were promised. In addition, when you want to regain your Super Power status but your population is shrinking, this also has potential geopolitical repercussions (i.e. Russia). How these themes, and others, play out is anyone's guess, but one should at least be aware of the potentialities.

On the whole, a thorough look thru the global prism of the forthcoming demographic shifts and their probable pocket book economic repercussions.

For reference and for those that may want to research more from an economic perspective, I would also recommend

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
By Jackal
Format:Hardcover
This is a decent book about demographic trends (i.e. aging population in most countries). It is written by a guy at a Swiss bank, but this is not noticeable in any way. The focus is on general trends and could equally have been written by the United Nations. You should buy this book if you want an overview of the situation in general and in some of the major countries. You will not find much discussion about business implications in the book. .

What are the weaknesses with the book?
- If you are already familiar with the basic facts and would like to have some interesting, novel findings/implications, the book does not have much to offer. My suspicion is that there actually could be a lot of "hidden" information in all the demographic tables, but the author does not really analyse to that level of detail.
- It would have been nice with some interesting business consequences of the trends. I'm not talking about the obvious things like "focus on care for the elderly", but more thoughtful findings that can spur the readers own imagination.
- To help with the point above, it would have been useful with some kind of historical overview linking past demographic trends with wage development, popular culture, etc.

So this book is 3 stars depending on your specific needs. Instead of buying the book I would strongly advice you to read some of the reports on demographics from the big investment banks. Credit Suisse has some great reports full of data and business consequences. With some cleaver search on google you should be able to find them without too much trouble.
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