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Americans as a population are aging. While people over 65 represented only 12.4 percent of the population in 2000 the number is expected to grow to 19 percent by 2030 according to the U.S. Administration on Aging. In 2011 the oldest baby boomers (born between 1946 and 1964) began to turn 65, by 2050 the number of folks over 65 is expected to reach 89 million according to the Population Reference Bureau (PBR). The PBR notes that other developed countries like Japan, Italy and Germany are aging at an even faster pace.
This aging of the global population is resulting in a smaller talent pool which may create more opportunities for women to participate in the workforce which will be good for everyone according to The Ripple Effect: What’s Good for Women Is Good for the World a 2014 report from Catalyst. The report notes that increasing the levels of female employment could help raise the gross domestic product (GDP) by five percent in the U.S., nine percent in Japan, 11 percent in Italy and as much as 27 percent in India.
Educated women are more likely to marry later in life, have smaller families, and work and earn income according to the UN. The Catalyst report notes that they also are more likely to invest in their own children thus breaking negative cycles for the next generation. Unfortunately, while women worldwide have made great advances in education, they still have limited opportunities in STEM fields which include science, technology, engineering and math.
The report observes that while there have been some advances for women the overall progress towards equality has slowed. Catalyst notes that globally only 24 percent of senior management roles are held by women with 21 percent of senior roles being held by women in Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan the United Kingdom and the United States.
Catalyst found that improving women’s lives is strongly correlated with increased GDP, higher literacy rates, greater education access and lower infant mortality. Their report states that by 1) Engaging women fully and fairly in the workforce 2) Improving women’s access to education and 3) Removing barriers to women’s full participation in society not only allows women to reach their full potential but improves the “prosperity, health, stability, and security of entire societies.” What’s good for women is good for the world.