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From slowing birth rates to rising life expectancies, major demographic changes will reshape the way we live

A growing ageing population presents new economic challenges—but offers opportunities, too

By David Willetts   May 2019

The elderly exercising on Japan’s Respect for the Aged day. Image: Shutterstock

The most profound change that any society goes through is the demographic transition: it is the route to modernity. In pre-modern societies there are high birth rates and high mortality rates. Any surges in population are usually reversed by epidemics and famine, since such societies lack the means to feed the extra mouths.

In the late 18th century, Malthus analysed all this with…

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