Thursday, May 06, 2010

JEREMY LAURENCE WRITES that MOST BABIES BORN IN BRITAIN TODAY WILL LIVE TO BE 120

JEREMY LAURENCE WRITES that MOST BABIES BORN IN BRITAIN TODAY WILL LIVE TO BE 120

By Kevin Stoda


A month or so ago, I came across a Jeremy Laurance article that really made me think positively about the fact that Europe’s population is continuing to get much older each year. The article was in the WORD AND PRESS (Feb. 1, 2009) and was entitled, “ Most Babies Born in Britain will live to be 120”. This demographic shift is already being perceived in Eastern Asian countries, such as Japan and South Korea, where retirement ages for men have now been raised to 69 and 72 respectively.

http://ageing.oxfordjournals.org/cgi/reprint/afl059v1.pdf


Most of Laurance´s information appears to have come from the Danish Ageing Research Centre at the University of Southern Denmark.. Professor Kaare Christen and colleagues in Denmark have stated, “The linear increase in record life expectancy does not suggest a booming limit to human lifespan. If life expectancy were approaching a limit, some deceleration of progress would probably occur. Continued progress in the longest-living populations suggests we are not close to a limit, and further rises in life expectancy seem likely.”

http://www.demogr.mpg.de/publications/files/2880_1208941933_1_ACER%202008%202.pdf


What is most comforting about this article from Laurance, a health editor, is that, in contrast to the many national worries across Europe in the wake of an oncoming demographic time-bomb facing young workers and their pension plans (due to the increase in longevity of their parents and grandparents), older people can be expected to work more effectively and efficiently alongside younger ones in the future if the European continent decides to face the real issues of ageing and society with workable solutions, i.e. ones which recognise that which older peoples have to offer society. This is especially true if improvements in mental- and physical-health-maintenance continue to be observed—and if properly integrated into societal development solutions--over the coming decades.


DISABILITY RATES HAVE BEEN FALLING ACROSS EUROPE

Laurance notes, “What worries most people about ageing is losing their facultire and the ability to perform the daily tasks of living—feeding, dressing, bathing and getting around. But despite increases in cancer and chronic conditions, such as diabetes and arthritis, disability has been falling. This apparent paradox is explained by earlier diagnosis and improved treatments which have rendered these conditions less disabling.” Laurance claims, “ In the future, more of us will fall ill, but the illnesses will affect us less.”

http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601124&sid=aGCHVoAxPlu8

On the other hand, although life quality and life-expectancy for the ageing have grown in Italy and Belgium for both sexes in recent years—and for males in Germany, Austria, and Finland—“in the UK it is stagnating among women and falling among men, ” according to Jeremy Laurance. This is likely because up-till-now, there have been continuing high levels of smoking and bad drinking habits (and too many nutritional practices in the past in the UK) reducing the quality of life for ageing British citizenry. The various European researchers indicate, “ Progress towards improvement of health is likely to depend on public health efforts. For example, to combat smoking, obesity, low levels of exercise, poor diets and excess of drinking, and to provide improved living conditions and care for elderly people with several ailments.”

http://familyfoodpractices.landfood.ubc.ca/?q=researchers



REDISTRIBUTION OF TIME AT WORK AND PLAY

One of the more important observations from the recent scientific papers on the subject of ageing in Europe appears to be concerning mental and physical health campaigns which would curtail work while increasing time for play, family and life-long-learning. Laurance writes, “The authors proposed a radical strategy for dealing with the financial and social challenges posed by the growing elderly population: encouraging people to work shorter weeks for a longer period of their lives. Most of the governments . . . were already raising the retirement age” in Europe.

http://www.springerlink.com/content/7j83834285263662/

One study said, “The 20th Century was a century of redistribution of income. The 21st Century could be a century of redistribution of work. Redistribution could spread work more evenly acrosss the populations and over the ages of life. Individuals could combine work, education, leisure and child-rearing in varying amounts at different ages.”

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2009/oct/02/live-to-see-100

Interestingly in March, I attended a meeting with some labour union organisers in Wiesbaden. They indicated that VERDI and IG METALL, among the largest unions in Europe, were considering a push for a 25 to 28 hour-work-week, i.e. in line with this recent research on ageing in society and in line with the economic and social needs of Germany today. Moreover, in April, (the following month) the European Union leadership announced a push towards levelling across the entire-continent all of the overtime employment laws and practices—so that workers could expect to have the same sort-of-maximum workloads in whichever EU country the near future. For example, some workers do 44 to 48 hours a week while others in similar fields of employment earn full pay for doing only about 30 hours a week during the recent economic downturn.

The average full-time work position is already 38 hours in the EU and neighbouring lands of West and Central Europe .

http://www.epsu.org/a/722

With all the unemployment in the USA and neighbouring lands, perhaps a reduction in lifetime work hours should be called for by all Americans—not just unionists.

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