The Age of Aging: How Demographics are Changing the Global Economy and Our World / Edition 1

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

The contrast between the expected old age bulge in Westernnations and the youth bulge in developing countries has importantimplications for globalization and for immigration in Westerncountries—two topics already characterized by risingdiscontent or opposition. Aging issues are also bringing newchallenges for the world to address in two sensitive areas, thepoliticization of religion and the management of internationalsecurity.

George Magnus asserts that the challenges arising from agingsocieties will probably not be addressed effectively unlessgovernments assume larger economic and social involvement andresponsibilities. He also argues that the global implications ofdemographic change, along with those of parallel concerns, such asclimate change and resource scarcity, will require a moresubstantial role to be played by strengthened internationalinstitutions.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“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. ( - 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 problem, especially given the impact of the economic crisis on the value of retirement savings. Add to this the fact that unemployment figures due this week are expected to confirm job losses rising fastest among older workers, and we see how vulnerable this group has become. (, 17/03/09)

“…interesting and far-reaching book”. (Spectator Business &, Nov '08)

“Magnus’s account avoids the hysteria that often affects this genre…It is well-researched and thorough.” (Financial Times , 22/12/2008)

“…provides a clear, sober and well-written analysis of the problem, both in developed and developing countries…” (The Economist , 3/1/2009)

“Magnus's book is a welcome attempt to address the problems of ageing societies... is informative and well written." (New Statesman , 22/1/2009)

“…intensely readable, utterly disturbing and optimistically redemptive book…his style is authoritative but amenable.” (On Target , Jan '09)

“George Magnus has methodically set out an economist’s view of how societies may adapt…suggests ways in which societies can adjust”. (Financial World , Feb '09)

“…well received book…explores a phenomenon with which the world has never had to deal and whose implications are not fully understood.” (Daily Telegraph &, 2/2/2009)

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 , 3/2/2009)

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780470822913
  • Publisher: Wiley
  • Publication date: 10/13/2008
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 256
  • Sales rank: 1,527,424
  • Product dimensions: 6.20 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 1.40 (d)

Meet the Author

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.

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Table of Contents




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 andclimate 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 notcomparable.

The demographic dividend for poorer countries.



Chapter 4: The economics of aging—what is tobedone?

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,andEurope.

Aging in advanced economies.

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

Removing the sex and age barriers to work Barriers to femaleemployment.

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 anddeveloping 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, andreform.

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 societyproblems?

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 internationalsecurity.

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.


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