The linked article below notes the problem and is optimistic we can embrace necessary changes to accommodate this demographic time bomb.

Our population is aging faster than at any other time in history. As longevity rises and birth rates fall, the WHO warns that retirement-age and older adults today outnumber children under the age of five. In the next 20 years, the number of human beings aged 65+ is set to increase by 600 million reaching 1.3 billion, or 22% of the global population. According to demographers from the University of Virginia, by 2040, the average age in America will be 38.6, meaning that almost half of the country will be in their 40s or older.

An aging population is a smoldering crisis for our systems and structures: government and healthcare providers, businesses, educational institutions, and taxpayers. Euromonitor International, a market research company, predicts that the average gross income in the 65+ cohort will be 13% lower than income growth for the population globally.

Source: Commentary: Here’s what an aging workforce means for America’s employers

Many ideas

  • Embracing roles for older workers
  • Support career breaks and sabbaticals so people can live life, learn, explore – and return to the work world
  • Embrace “phased retirement” rather than our current “all or nothing” approach
  • Some employers are encouraging hiring and retaining older workers and supporting “age diversity” of their workplace
  • Embrace incentives, not forcing older workers to remain in the workplace. In other words, it should remain voluntary depending on each individual’s needs.

All good ideas.

Others seek more inbound immigration to bolster the U.S. labor force.

I am biased towards business process efficiency and increased use of automation.

When I was young, “garbage collection” consisted of a truck driven by a driver, plus two garbage collectors (a staff of 3). As the truck was driven down the street, the two collectors moved large, wheeled containers up driveways and emptied our trashcans into the container, and then the container into the garbage truck.

Later, this was changed to require us to move our trash cans to the curb, shortening their walking distance and increasing productivity (by outsourcing some work to the customer!)

Today, we have purpose-built trash cans we wheel to the curb, and a truck, driven by a lone driver, drives down the street and automatically lifts and empties the trash can directly into the truck. From 3 workers to one, and as fast or faster than when there were 3 workers.

We will see a lot more of these combined process efficiencies + automation/mechanization incorporate into more work places.