A young sailor clad in his uniform races zealously along the crowded streets of Times Square as a photographer trails his every movement. What would unfold before the flashing camera of Alfred Eisenstaedt was to become an iconic moment in history, as the sailor leans in for that famous kiss with the nurse in white. For them and the rejoicing faces at the background, the gruelling war is finally over and peace has been restored.
This marked the start of the baby boom generation spanning between 1946-1964 as countries like US, UK, Australia and Canada witnessed a sharp increase in birth rates. The Baby Boomers benefited from longer life spans, better health conditions and greater wealth through a relatively peaceful period without much wars. Interestingly in Russia, these off-springs were coined as the Sputnik Generation, a reference to an epoch where a swelling population meets the launch of their patented space crafts.
In the present 21st century however, population aging is arising as a major demographic trend worldwide. January 2011 heralded the first wave of aging Baby Boomers who will be reaching the full retirement age of 65. In US, the number of aging Baby Boomers is expected to rise from 35 million to 77 million over the next 20 years due to falling fertility rates and improved medical and disease control. China, India and Japan with the world’s largest elderly populations will also continue to see a massive increase in their ‘silver’ populations, a phenomenon popularly dubbed as the “Silver Tsunami” in Asia. Future projection estimates that Africa will remain the world’s youngest continent with only 5% of its population hitting the retirement age by 2050. Yet, for the first time in global history, the proportion of people aged 65 and over will exceed the number of children below the age of 5.
The silver evolution has ushered in a new era where greater emphasis is being placed on senior care. An array of issues ranging from insufficient primary care providers to the growing demand for elderly-friendly infrastructures are just some of the problems governments across the world must cope with. Healthcare and technological firms must also capture the ‘silver’ value and ride on the wave of new developments to ensure that they are well-poised to meet the future demands of an aging society.
(Image source: Alfred Eisenstaedt)
(Video source: CBS News)