GP Essay on Demography

Learn more about Demography by reading this GP Essay.

Do you think it is better to be young or old?

Learn more about the impacts of an ageing population, such as changes in public perceptions towards the elderly.

Discriminating Young and Old

Ageism has become one of the many forms of discrimination affecting modern society. A form of social discrimination against age, such attitudes involve the stereotyping of two particular groups in society, youths and the elderly. Youths are dismissed as having certain traits of impulsiveness, or being inexperienced, while the elderly perceived to be incapable of taking care of themselves and are seen as burdens to society. Such attitudes have serious ramifications on all levels of society as they affect social attitudes, cultural perceptions and government policies towards both groups. The rise of ageism may be attributed to a shift in mindsets towards a valorization of the youths and it is necessary to point out that popular usage of the term ‘ageism’ refers specifically to the aged rather than the young. In light of this, it is better to be young in society today.

Worse to be young

  • Due to the aging population, the youths are faced with the prospect of having to support many elderly dependents eventually. There is much stress today among the young today – whether academically or in the workplace.
  • Due to globalization, competition today is even stiffer than it was in the past due to the introduction of foreign talent, and the option of outsourcing.

Better to be old

  • Retirees can now relax and enjoy life, slowing down after working hard for many years.

Creating an Elder Friendly Environment

Though there may be the problem of an aging population, especially in many developed societies, governments around the world are increasingly aware of this and are implementing measures to overcome this problem – whether in terms of providing better pension schemes or creating an environment which is more elderly-friendly. This will mean that the future burden on the young is being lessened.

Worse to be old

  • The fear of aging in an increasingly youth obsessed culture creates an irrational prejudice against the elderly.

Creation of a culture that valorizes youth and denigrates old age.

  • Advertisements, the mass media and popular culture are filled with images of the young or are predominantly focused on reversing one’s age by trying to look younger.
  • Creation of an irrational fear of old age, disease, disability and other ailments that have come to characterize old age.
  • The irony lies in that many developed countries have reached healthcare standards that allow one to age healthily and gracefully. Yet, the concept of becoming old is still a frightening concept to many.
  • The construction and dissemination of knowledge is no longer tied to age or experience, leading to our dismissal of the knowledge that age can bring.
  • Historically, old age was venerated because it connoted experience, maturity and wisdom.
  • The democratization of knowledge and the accessibility of information because of the age of the Internet and the printing press have made the veneration of old age obsolete and irrelevant.
  • This is a growing problem because neglecting the experience that age can give only indicates a throwback to society where marginalized groups were silenced because they were deemed unimportant.
  • We form a new benchmark for measuring useful and irrelevant knowledge based on arbitrary stereotypes of age.

Better to be young

  • More opportunities today to develop oneself due to globalisation and technological advances. One can further one’s studies abroad or work in international firms to broaden one’s horizons. The young today can also take online courses as well.
  • Seen as being more technologically adept, the young today are given many opportunities in the workplace. They are also perceived to be more creative and flexible, something which many firms and employers now appreciate in their staff.

Challenges Vs Opportunities

In today’s society, due to the nature of ageism, it seems to be better to be young than old. Though the young inevitably have their own burdens and face their own challenges compared to the old, younger people are given more opportunities and treated more favourably.

By JC GP Tutor Simon Ng