Staff Discussion Notes showcase the latest policy-related analysis and research being developed by individual IMF staff members and are published to elicit comment and encourage debate. These papers are generally brief and employ nontechnical language and aim at a broad audience interested in economic policy issues. This web-only series replaced Staff Position Notes in January 2011.
This Staff Discussion Note looks at the stark fiscal challenges posed by the decline and aging of populations between now and 2100. It finds that without reforms, pensions and health spending would rise to 25 percent of GDP by end-century in more developed countries (and 16 percent of GDP in less developed countries), with potentially dire fiscal consequences. Given the uncertainty underlying the population projections and associated large fiscal risks, a multi-pronged approach will be required. This could include entitlement reform-starting now but at a gradual pace; policies that affect demographics and labor markets; and better tax systems and more efficient public expenditure.