Thursday, April 13, 2006

Old Ireland

David McWilliams again, this time on the rapidly aging Irish population.
Over the coming few decades the most radical change in our society will be the proportion of older people. When Eamon de Valera led the 1966 Rising Commemoration, the proportion of over-65s in the population was one in 10. This figure has remained more or less static since then.

In fact, the number of over-65s has only increased by 145,000 in the past 40 years. This is largely a result of mass emigration in the 1950s.

These emigrants, unlike the late 1970s and 1980s bunch, never came home. Now contrast this with the next 40 years when the number of over-65s will rise nine times faster. By 2040, more than 1.3m - or one in three of us - will be over 65. Ireland will no longer be home to the "young Europeans" as the IDA ads of the past decade have trumpeted. On the contrary, far from being young, vibrant and fast-moving, we will be an old, grey and conservative population not unlike the populations of France and Italy today.
I lap this stuff up, although I don't buy everything he has to say. However, I do like his take on the Italian election. Old and comfortable people don't want change. That is fundamental to what's ailing Europe right now.