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Mr. Edgardo Ruggiero, Mr. Peter S. Heller, Mr. Menachem Katz, Mr. Robert A Feldman, Mr. Richard Hemming, Mr. Peter Kohnert, Ziba Farhadian, Mr. Donogh McDonald, Ahsan S. Mansur, and Mr. Bernard Nivollet

Abstract

Most of the seven major industrial countries are now experiencing significant changes in their demographic structure. A persistent pattern of declining fertility and improving life expectancy has created major segments of the population that are already relatively aged or will become so in the near future. This paper examines the impact of prospective demographic trends on the level and structure of social expenditure by the governments of the seven major industrial countries (the Group of Seven) through the year 2025.

Peter S. Heller

The Economics of Demographics provides a detailed look at how the biggest demographic upheaval in history is affecting global development. The issue explores demographic change and the effects of population aging from a variety of angles, including pensions, health care, financial markets, and migration, and looks specifically at the impact in Europe and Asia. Picture This looks at global demographic trends, while Back to Basics explains the concept of the demographic dividend. Country Focus spotlights Kazakhstan, while People in Economics profiles Nobel prize winner Robert Mundell. IMF Economic Counsellor Raghuram Rajan argues for further change in India's style of government in his column, Straight Talk.

Mr. Benedict J. Clements, Mr. Sanjeev Gupta, and Baoping Shang

For the latest thinking about the international financial system, monetary policy, economic development, poverty reduction, and other critical issues, subscribe to Finance & Development (F&D). This lively quarterly magazine brings you in-depth analyses of these and other subjects by the IMF’s own staff as well as by prominent international experts. Articles are written for lay readers who want to enrich their understanding of the workings of the global economy and the policies and activities of the IMF.

International Monetary Fund

Abstract

Political leaders have so frequently cried wolf over budgetary spending that voters are skeptical about talk of budgetary crises. This is unfortunate, since deficits should arouse genuine concern, particularly as their size in some industrial countries is daunting. Yet, the absolute size of deficits is not their most alarming aspect. In fact, most countries now run much smaller deficits (as a ratio of GDP) than they did during wartime. Rather, the persistence of budgetary shortfalls during a long period of peace, when governments traditionally pay off debts and save for the future, should set the alarm bells ringing. Furthermore, projected increases in the cost of government programs, as populations age and economic growth lags, give cause for further concern.

International Monetary Fund

Abstract

The phenomenon of substantial peacetime budget deficits over the past20 years has been traced to the burden of entitlements, a slowdown ineconomic productivity, and demographic and macroeconomic shifts in theindustrial countries. Though smaller and structurally different, deficitsin developing countries have also become worrisome. Most economists agreethat measures to reduce government spending are imperative, particularlythrough restructuring entitlement programs.

International Monetary Fund

This paper assesses the evolution of Eastern Caribbean Currency Union (ECCU) real exchange rates over time, and examines whether the region has lost competitiveness. The main finding is that there is little evidence of overvaluation of the Eastern Caribbean (EC) dollar. The relationship summarized above permits the calculation of equilibrium current account balances or norms. The financing of ECCU current account imbalances appears stable. This paper also provides evidence on the distinctive impact that tourism plays in the determination of the real exchange rate in tourism-driven economies.

Mr. Edgardo Ruggiero, Mr. Peter S. Heller, Mr. Menachem Katz, Mr. Robert A Feldman, Mr. Richard Hemming, Mr. Peter Kohnert, Ziba Farhadian, Mr. Donogh McDonald, Ahsan S. Mansur, and Mr. Bernard Nivollet

Abstract

Most of the seven major industrial countries are now experiencing significant changes in their demographic structure. A persistent pattern of declining fertility and improving life expectancy has created major segments of the population that are already relatively aged or will become so in the near future. This substantial change in the demographic structure is likely to have far-reaching implications. As to the economic ramifications alone, it is likely to affect the size, structure, and dynamics of the labor force and may cause difficulties in accommodating an aging work force; it may significantly challenge the maintenance of sustained and buoyant growth; and it is likely to alter the demand for goods and services. As to implications for the public sector, it is likely to influence the demand not only for pensions, but for other social expenditures as well (on education, medical care, etc.,). Furthermore, such a change could pose serious financial problems as the working-age segment of the population shrinks in proportion to the retired segment heightening the likelihood of intergenerational conflict. In most countries, concern over the aging problem has led to considerable discussion and the enactment of specific policy measures in the areas of pensions and medical care. Nevertheless, despite the potential importance of this issue, none of the seven major industrial countries has undertaken a comprehensive analysis of the combined impact of an aging population on the various components of government expenditure.1

Mr. Edgardo Ruggiero, Mr. Peter S. Heller, Mr. Menachem Katz, Mr. Robert A Feldman, Mr. Richard Hemming, Mr. Peter Kohnert, Ziba Farhadian, Mr. Donogh McDonald, Ahsan S. Mansur, and Mr. Bernard Nivollet

Abstract

An important problem faced in undertaking this study, particularly given its cross-country focus, was how to define the social expenditure of the government. Clearly, one should include expenditure on education, medical care, pensions, unemployment compensation, and income maintenance for the poor. The dividing line then becomes blurred. Should one include expenditure on family allowances? veterans benefits? workmen’s compensation? Should pensions of central government or public enterprise employees be included or treated analogously to the pension expenditure associated with private sector employees? Unfortunately, any cross-country comparison of government social expenditure by program is fraught with methodological difficulties, particularly for the governments of the seven major industrial countries. The structure of programs, the degree of public sector involvement, the instruments of intervention, and the level of benefits vary widely—thus rendering any comparison subject to numerous caveats.

Mr. Edgardo Ruggiero, Mr. Peter S. Heller, Mr. Menachem Katz, Mr. Robert A Feldman, Mr. Richard Hemming, Mr. Peter Kohnert, Ziba Farhadian, Mr. Donogh McDonald, Ahsan S. Mansur, and Mr. Bernard Nivollet

Abstract

A significant change is projected in the demographic structure of the seven major industrial countries over the next several decades. Through the year 2000 much of this change can be predicted with reasonable certainty, since changes in demographic parameters are not likely to offset the impact of the movement of existing population cohorts through the age structure. Looking beyond the turn of the century, unanticipated changes in fertility rates or life expectancies may influence the age structure of the population. This chapter reviews current demographic projections for the seven major industrial countries, examines their underlying determinants, and briefly explores their sensitivity to more extreme demographic assumptions.

International Monetary Fund
This Selected Issues paper attempts to quantify the impact of the demographic shift on growth and public finances in Switzerland. It examines the intertemporal consistency between current policy plans and unfunded liabilities, focusing primarily on social security, and explores policy options. It finds that so far, the impact of aging on the economy has been moderate. The number of pensioners has risen in recent years, but this is mainly owing to early retirees taking advantage of the generous disability and pension systems. The paper also examines the need for health care reforms in Switzerland.