About this Research Topic
While there had been some isolated periods of fertility declines in Europe in the last two centuries, the phenomenon of the so called third Demographic Transition became broadly recognized mostly over past three decades. It consists of falling female fertility, improved early childhood survival, extended longevity, and ultimately the rapid growth in the proportion of the elderly population in a society. Among the major underlying causes the following are listed: growing living standards, improvements in medical services, public health and public education, and sexual revolution and consequent absorption of unpaid female labor into the labor markets. In the process, the families undergo significant changes in their social role; large or multi-generation families dissolve into nuclear families, keeping the reproduction, consumption, education and health production functions, but losing most of the functions for production and intergenerational resource transmission.
The transition to an aged society brings serious financial challenges to all institutions in any economy. Even most developed countries that had foreseen these problems coming for two decades are still struggling to find money to pay for the bulging retirement income and health care costs for the growing elderly population. Their transition has been made more difficult by the new revolutionary medical technologies, extremely costly, that are targeted to save the life of a relatively small number of patients. To what extent, should public money be spent to save the life of the few, mostly elderly?
Another unsolved health policy problem for the high-income countries is the long-term care for the elderly. With the longevity and differential gender mortalities, we observe not only a swelling population of the very old, overwhelmingly female and poor, living alone. Only two or three decades ago, they who would have been taken care of by their children or their families, but with family ties weakening, the government is now asked to step in to provide necessary social services for them. How should we finance these costs? How can we preserve incentives for family caregiving?
These problems are no less serious, if not more, for most of the middle-income countries. Compared with the historical experiences of developed countries, their demographic transition is taking place at a much faster pace. While, at the moment, they may be enjoying huge “demographic dividends”, they are bound to face much larger bills for the retirement income, health care costs and long term care costs for their disproportionately large elderly populations.
With this in mind, we believe there are significant gaps in literature, particularly for less recognized middle-income regions; magnitudes of the demographic shocks involved, size of the expected costs of aging, distribution of these costs over generations. Although few developed countries have succeeded in preparing for their demographic shocks, how are these countries preparing for the upcoming aging shocks?
Today we have evidence that aging is taking place even among some of the poorest countries, bringing double burdens to their national health system. Still coping with the burden of infectious diseases, injuries and high neonatal mortality, these communities are facing high toll of chronic non-communicable diseases usually associated with old age in more developed countries.
Keeping in mind all of these issues we would like to welcome submissions of articles to this Research Topic. Any of the associated questions might be dealt using methods at author’s disposal. Variety or article types offered by Frontiers could help shape the findings and perspectives that are about to be conveyed to broad professional audience. We particularly welcome diversity of submissions in terms of areas of scientific interest and geographic regions worldwide. Studies coming from developing regions with a local knowledge gap on this phenomenon will be given priority conditional to decent methodological quality.
Additional Issues of interest that shall be welcomed in addition to analyses on aging in process specific countries or regions are:
* Changes in Family and the Lifetime Consequence on Health
* Preserving Health for Longer Work Life
* Family Policies for More and Better Children
* General Taxes or Health Insurance: Which is Better?
* Elderly and Sport/Training
* Aging and Affordability of Medical Care after Retirement
* Global Dementia Pandemic
Keywords: Population, Global, Economics, Costs, Health, Social, Demographics, Policy, aging
Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.