Read: The Age of Aging

  • Here is another popular science book that is related to my official professional interests: demographic change and age specific behavior in economic and political contexts. George Magnus did a nice job in collection data from various sources and present them in a way that non-scientist can see what is going on. Unfortunately this is about the only positive thing I can say about this book.

    Most of its content really boils down to the results of some opinion polls that are linked to population projections and aim at picturing a dire future. I have to admit that Magnus does not aim at creating a dooms day panic, nevertheless he mostly wants to raise concern, to make you worry. Little room is dedicated to where actual chances of demographic change may be hidden.

    I am a bit concerned about the links of current behavior of certain demographic groups and the resulting projections due to their different growth dynamics. First, the assumption of stable behavior of certain groups, i.e. stable preferences and stable opportunity sets within these groups, is too simplistic. And second, a simple multiplication of current types of behavior with projected (given the stability of behavior) population frequencies neglects any evolutionary dynamic that may alter the behavior. The quality of these projections is rather questionable. On the up-side, Magnus acknowledges these possible shortcomings on the very last pages of his book. Though by then, the reader may already be convinced of the imminent demise of his favorite way of living.