INTOUCH : Are we prematurely aging?

Kiwis are getting older and the blame can’t be laid entirely at the aging feet of baby boomers. It seems outward migration is also taking its toll.
That’s according to Natalie Jackson – an expert on regional demography and new director for the Centre for Population Studies at University of Waikato. She says the deficit of those in the 20 to 40 age group, mainly attributable to migration loss, means there are problems ahead for the labour market.
“Crunch time is approaching with the number of retirees set to boom and ever fewer young people coming onto the labour market.”
It doesn’t help that similar aging population skews, not only in Australia but in places like Europe or the US, function like big vacuum that is already busily sucking in Kiwi migrants.
A related problem is getting more women into the workforce and while New Zealand has made good start on this – there’s much yet to do.
A former president of the Australian Population Association, Jackson has spent the past 15 years researching the regional impacts of population aging as well as looking at the socio-demographic differentials between indigenous and non-indigenous peoples on both sides of the Tasman.
She says we need to understand the underlying structure and drivers of population to make strategic and well-informed policy. And, she notes, it is the family that generates future workers and taxpayers.
“Australian figures estimate each child costs $1 million not only in costs but foregone parental earnings. We need to recognise this economic contribution and see more investment in family.”

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