Out of shape: The inverted Age Pyramid


Longevity and the future Population Structure

A World Bank report makes it clear: Owing to the demographic evolution, and the consequent shrinkage of a working age population, it becomes important to keep older workers in the labor force longer. A changed pension policy accompanied by a flexible labor market should enable them to remain in the workforce and retain a high level of productivity. Presently, the prognosis for the future population structure resembles a column that may change to the shape of an inverting pyramid – with smaller cohorts of working age population expected to support the larger ones of elderly retirees. With rising longevity suggesting an average life expectancy after retirement of 15 years, the elderly are encouraged to spend their healthy years in the labor force rather than in retirement. This not only feeds pension funds, but also helps maintain the living standard enjoyed while working and reduces poverty among the elderly significantly. The following poem is a reminder of all those well-known facts – and relates to the meetings industry.

Beautiful people

„Mirror, mirror on the wall
Who are the fairest of us all?“

Is it the baby boomers, say,
who’ve been around until this day
for five or six or more decades?
And who deserve far better grades
than have been readily attested
by those in whom they had invested.

„I’m not quite sure, I must admit,
I think, I have to think a bit.“

A baby boomer is a person
who has been born – not much ado,
post World War II, it could not worsen
with what survivors had been through.
No decent food, no clothes to wear,
no TV, radio, discs to share.
No fancy objects to show off,
instead there was the whooping-cough.

A strange machine had been invented
that filled a large room, meters square
which looked as though it had descended
from universal spheres out there.

Searching for a brand in vain
they called it electronic brain.
A computer, giant as a rocket!
Try to put that in your pocket!

And yet, today, the seeds are sown,
the boomers use the mobile phone,
can drive a car, work a computer
are able to install a router.
But different from their own kids
it did not hit them like a blitz.
Much knowledge had to be ingested
until their skills could be harvested.

But you are nimble, you are quick,
always close to the next mouse click.

You youngsters, confident – not shy
who represent the famed Gen Y,
consisting of discerning peers
not bearing baby boomers’ fears
of not competing any longer
with that bright force that’s growing stronger.
Who’s set to handle easily
the latest in technology.
Who’s programmed like the fine device
they purchased at superior price
and that, as we have learned at last,
makes presence seem like distant past.

A peer group, young and optimistic
is running the risk of turning autistic.

Whatever’s new, be sure, they’ve got it!
The stylish tool, they just had spotted
is implemented without fright
as swiftly as the speed of light.

The clock ticks on perpetually,
no use of asking Y.
The time rolls by relentlessly
for you, the blessed Gen Y.
And then you’ll ask not without sighing:
Y is our flag no longer flying?

Y is it that now comes instead
the new star: Generation Z?

But no, oh gosh! it’s even worse
and almost seems it were a curse!
Another cohort threat emerges,
or better: it makes reckless surges
on silent cat’s paws swashing back
as forceful as a lion pack.

Instead of reaching for their pension,
enrol into a nursery mansion,
instead of easing up and knit
the baby boomer’s tough and fit.
It is compulsory to mention
that it is their firm intention
to utilise their grit and wit
to stay around the working pit.

The wicked graph, the name does fit,
is called: inverted pyramid.

Please look it up, there’s always google,
here in poems space is frugal.
But generally it means to say:
the older folks won’t go away.

Because, for lack of younger ones
they do not stand much of a chance
of ever daring to retire
or else, their straits were more than dire.

The world’s depleted pension funds
do not allow financial stunts.
And, thus, the boomer’s destiny
‘s a work life lasting endlessly.

So, brace yourselves, you meeting planners, you delegates and venue staff.
Make room for walkers, sticks – and manners, to satisfy the blasted graph.
Buy hearing aids, go barrier-free, build ramps, wide lifts, serve herbal tea.
Enlarge that script to some degree on flat-screens for old folks to see.
Allow them time to type their notes, to cast their votes, collect their coats.
And you will note, beyond rolled oats, it’s worthwhile bridging needless moats.

And then perhaps one day we’ll find
The world belongs to all mankind.
We’ll lead, not only from a distance,
A fairly tol’rant coexistence.

„Mirror, mirror on the wall
Who are the fairest of us all?“

„Phew! Yahoo! I do admit,
that I did have to think a bit.
I can confirm, and this is true:
The fairest, are now all of you.“

Poem © 2014 Christina Feyerke


Header image: ©Christina Feyerke