Older People Aren’t as Costly as Once Thought

Few people, and certainly not most investors, have little idea of exactly how old most of the world’s populations are getting. Germany is allowing tens of thousands of immigrants from Syria into the country partly because its workers are retiring like crazy.

But the best statistic I know of that accentuates changes in population demographics is that the number of people on this globe who are 60 or older will nearly triple in about three decades. As that happens, there will be far more older people on the planet than children, which has never happened before. More specifically, in less than five years, the number of people over 65 will be larger than the number of people under 5 years of age. The number of people who will live to be more than 100 years old is expected to increase more than 1,000% from 2010–2050.

In a 245-page report released last month, the World Health Organization pointed out a lot of misconceptions about aging populations, the most important of which is that people don’t start falling apart physically when they get older the way they did just a generation ago. Perhaps more importantly, the study points out that the misconception of older people needing more health care and more expensive health care isn’t accurate.

The report suggests that adequate health care for aging populations be considered an investment because highly skilled knowledgeable older workers can often continue working well into their 70s. In many countries, the report says, health care costs actually drop for people over age 75 on a yearly basis.

“Data from the United States suggest that health care spending at the end of life is not increasing any more rapidly than health care spending in general,” according to the report. Yet it notes that the United States has no good system for long-term health care for older people, and therefore health care costs are lower in countries like Germany, Japan, Korea and Holland, where systems are more comprehensive to support aging populations.

A significant part of the study focuses on dementia, noting that nearly 30% of the people who are older than 85 years have some significant form of dementia. The report chides governments to invest more research into Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias.

An executive condensed 32-page version of the report is available here.

To your health and wealth,

Stephen Petranek
for The Daily Reckoning

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