Danny Dorling is Professor of Human Geography at the University of Sheffield, England. He is also unafraid to tell it like it is when it comes to the age wave of older citizens in the UK. In his most recent book, So you think you know about Britain? Dorling quotes the Daily Telegraph headline ‘UK’s ageing population is a bigger economic threat than the financial crisis’. He then proceeds to factually demolish this ridiculous assertion. Dorling looks at the numbers behind concerns of Age Pension blowouts to conclude that the UK, as with many other developed nations, can easily afford to fund an ageing population – it just needs to share the wealth around a little more fairly. Total pension savings are high. But, as in Australia, too few hold the lion’s share of the wealth while too many exist below the poverty line in old age. Says Dorling ‘There is money to be made out of population-ageing scare stories… We can all afford to retire … We don’t need so many people in paid work, unless we allow a few to grow fabulously wealthy at the expense of the rest of us’.
As well as tackling the myths about (collective) retirement income, Dorling considers the economics of health care in the UK and notes, given the state of their bodies, ‘older people consume far fewer drugs per malady than do younger folk’ and concludes that the elderly ‘are not a great drain on our health services, nor are a majority of them a drain on care services’.