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Megan McArdle

The Politics of Aging

Who will take care of all the old people?
The secrets to long life are exercise and a generous social-welfare program.

The secrets to long life are exercise and a generous social-welfare program.

Photographer: Mario Tama/Getty Images

Who will take care of all the old people?

That's the theme of Nicholas Eberstadt's latest piece on demographics, which I highly recommend to all of you. The core problem of the welfare state is that it relieves people of the need for family to take care of them, but it does not relieve society of the need for caretakers. In fact, because there's evidence that more generous social-security systems cause people to reduce their fertility, you can argue that these systems are undercutting the very actuarial basis upon which they depend.