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Our ageing populations could help slow greenhouse emissions

Hassan, K. (2015) Our ageing populations could help slow greenhouse emissions. The Conversation, 9 June 2015 .

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In many parts of the world, and particularly in developed countries, populations are getting older. Of the baby boomers (born between 1945 and 1965), the oldest are now well into their sixties, and in their lifetimes fertility rates have fallen while life expectancies have climbed.

For every four people aged between 15 and 64 in Europe, North America, Australia, New Zealand and Japan, there is now one person over 65. And this proportion is growing – by the end of the century, there will be two over-65s for every five people of working age.

Population ageing will put significant pressure on the fiscal policies of governments around the world. Healthcare and pension systems are expected to bear the brunt, while ageing populations will shrink the labour force, putting downward pressure on economic productivity.

But what if there’s an upside for the environment? My recent research has found that, in rich countries at least, ageing populations might help to drive down greenhouse gas emissions.

Publication Type: Non-refereed Article
Murdoch Affiliation: School of Business
Publisher: The Conversation Media Group
Copyright: The Author
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