There are finally, officially, more of us than of them. The bulge in the population caused when the birth rate rose after the war has at last moved up the pension age. Rather like squeezing toothpaste up a tube, most of it is now close to the exit - except that the tube has got longer for most of us, and our expectation of life has grown considerably.
There are now more people in the pension age groups than under sixteen years of age. The pessimistic view is that this causes a mass of problems: the money for pensions has to be found, for more people and for longer than previously: the number of economically active young people, who should be earning the cash to support the pensioners, is reducing: older people have a habit of being ill, and costing the state rather a lot of money: and we hang on to our money for longer, meaning that the fortunate children of richer parents have to wait longer to buy their expensive houses.
While the list of negatives can go on and on, we might also take the half-full glass route. Older people are better at some tasks than are younger people, and if the need is there to earn money, there is no real reason why at least some of the older population cannot be economically productive, which may have the side benefit of keeping them healthier. While the young tend to have minds which work well on fast learning tasks, older people have what is called ‘crystalline’ intelligence, the ability to sort out what is important and build on experience. While younger minds may count all the trees, older brains notice that there is a wood.
If we are really lucky, it may also mean that business notices that there is a big, valuable older market, and starts thinking of producing goods for them. The entertainment industry is massively skewed towards youth. Fashion is equally heavily youth-oriented - personally I’ve nothing against dressing in beige and grey, but it’s just not for me yet. I have had a minor rant about telephones being designed for the young, but what about the logic of designing digital cameras which require you to put on reading glasses each time you want to use them. I keep seeing older users with arms outstretched, squinting hard to try to see what is on the tiny screens on their cameras. If only our arms grew longer as we aged - i have it on good authority that the only part of the human body which keeps on growing well into old age are the ears. Maybe Darwinians and Intelligent Design theorists could explain that one for me.
And if we are really, really lucky, we may not have to hear politicians and old rock stars telling us that ‘children are the future’. For quite a while, older people are the future, and our society and economy will just have to get used to it.
One cheering piece of news - apparently while 10% of all holiday romances end up in marriage, for the over 60s 22% of them result in marriage. Anyone for the 58-70 Club holiday?