commentary

(Shanghai Daily)

April 27, 2009

Redefining 'Old Age': 60 Is the New 40

by Linda G. Martin

China's population is aging quickly.

To address the issue, there are basically two options: try to slow it down; develop policies and programs to deal with whatever negative consequences there might be.

What can be done in the short run to slow population aging? One way to slow population aging fairly quickly is to change the definition of "old age."

Nowadays, some countries use age 60 to define old age, and some use 65 or older. Typically, these ages were chosen at a time when average life expectancy was lower.

For example, in the United States, age 65 was chosen as the age of eligibility for public pensions in 1935, when life expectancy was about 61 years.

Life expectancy has gone up a lot since then, and the US and other countries have begun to adjust upward their ages of eligibility for public pensions and their definitions of old age....


The author is a senior fellow with RAND Corporation, a non-profit US research institute. The article is adapted from her speech at a forum held by the Oriental Rostrum in Shanghai on April 20. The views are her own.

The remainder of this op-ed can be found at Shanghai Daily.

This commentary appeared in Shanghai Daily on April 27, 2009