Wallace asks what happens to the world when the average age of the population goes up. It's no secret that a shift in population dynamics has occurred—it began with the baby boom in the late 1940s—or that this will have an effect on society and business. But this new title, written by a British former newspaper economics editor, may help refocus interest in what this shift will mean in the future. Although written primarily from a British perspective, there's nothing that would make the contents inappropriate for an American audience. In fact, one of the useful features here is the broad world context of aging, comparing and contrasting effects in different countries. The author doesn't hesitate to make concise conclusions about particular countries. About Germany he states, "The lights are programmed to go out in the powerhouse." Japan, too, fairs poorly in his judgment: "the Rising Sun scenario seems as outdated as only past fashions in paranoia can be." A fair amount of coverage is given to economic issues, including personal finances, but not enough for this to be considered a guide for investors. If there's a weak point in the presentation, it's a lack of depth about specific topics. The fast-food industry, for example, is covered in only two pages—as are most other topics—a concession that leaves room for the wide sweep covered but is hardly adequate to deal with most issues. The contents, grounded in statistics and measurements, occasionally venture into predictions that border on the editorial. For example, "The 2020s will be the decade when the threat of conflict between the generations is most serious." A brisk, accessible, and enlightening introduction to the effects of an aging population.
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