Senior citizens will need to be competitive and creative in the years ahead if the industrial world is to offset generational imbalances caused by low fertility rates and longer life spans, according to experts at a Washington conference last week.
In the world's richest countries - where fertility rates have been steadily declining and the large number of people born during the post-World War II baby boom is nearing retirement age - the future will be societies where a substantial portion of the population is over 50. A recurring theme of the conference was how to sustain productivity when the labor force begins to dwindle.
The fastest-growing population segment in the industrial world is the elderly - loosely defined as people 65 and older - who now comprise 15 percent of its population. By 2030, the elderly will be one-fourth the population in developed countries.
The Center for Strategic and International Studies sponsored the two-day conference, which featured the top members of the Commission on Global Aging: Walter Mondale, former Democratic senator from Minnesota, vice president in the Carter …