December 16th, 2010 | Posted in Aging
by Carl Haub, senior demographer
I just returned from a vacation to Germany and came across something I hadn’t seen there before. There, on shopping carts at a DM-Drogereimarkt (a drugstore chain) in Hannover were both magnifying glasses and a hook upon which to hang one’s cane (see photo). Presumably the magnifying glass is help read fine print on labels and prices. So, we have a society beginning to accommodate an aging population on the retail scene!
At the end of 2009, every fifth German was age 65 or older. Of those older people, 57.7 percent were females, a somewhat skewed proportion due to heavy male mortality during World War II. That proportion is expected to grow in the future. The official “middle series” population projections of the Federal Statistics Office assume that the birth rate will not increase from the current total fertility rate (TFR) of 1.4 children per woman and, in fact, it has been 1.4 or less since 1991. What does this mean? Should the TFR remain constant to 2050, Germany’s population will decline from the current 82 million to anywhere from 69 million to 74 million, depending on the amount of annual net immigration. In both cases, the proportion of the population ages 65 and over would rise to about one-third. It seems that Germany is preparing for an elderly society even in shopping malls.