Essay on Law and Social Theory Population aging

In the anti-aging field impressive results have been achieved in animal studies. For example, it is necessary to note the rapid growth of the achievements in the field of cell growth of organs. Stem therapy now treats many previously incurable diseases, and claims to be the primary method of rejuvenation for the next 10-20 years (Huber, 2005). A huge number of organizations around the world are working on the problem of computer simulation of living organisms and human in particular. Thus, there is a project aiming at creating a complete computer model of the bacterium Escherichia coli down to individual molecules (International E. coli Alliance). There are a number of projects dealing with the study and the engineer analysis of the human brain (Human Cognome Project). There is an advancing joint project between IBM and the Federal Polytechnic Institute of Lausanne, IBM Blue Brain, which aims to create a digital model of the human brain (Blue Brain Project). NASA also conducts works in this direction with a number of projects on the anatomic human modelling. The solution to the problem of modelling a human would solve both issues of long-term effects of drugs, and virtually any questions of medical and other interference in the human body and its long-term effects (Huber, 2005; Olshansky et al., 2006).

Thus, Umberto Eco (2009) has recently proposed a prediction that is based on the author’s belief that in the next centuries people will live an average of 200 years. On this basis, the author makes very daring predictions, such as the emergence of new diseases in the age range from 80 to 200 years, the increase of the age of majority, in this regard, the transition of the function of raising children to the state (Eco, 2009).

It is also necessary to note that the current situation of older people in society has fundamentally changed comparing to the traditional societies and will change even more in the near future. In general, the social consequences of increased longevity include (Doron, 2010; Vanhuysse and Goerres, 2011; World Population Prospects, 2009; Peterson, 1999):

  • changes in the structure of social stratification;
  • development of retraining, education of adult and elderly people (lifelong education);
  • conflict between the new reality and the traditional understanding of the age and the ďage-scheduleĒĚ;
  • vague age stratification and formation if ageless society;
  • possible decline in the popularity of radical movements;
  • changes in family mode related to the increase of life expectancy;
  • possible overpopulation.

In particular, as people become more educated, live longer and maintain good health, the elderly, more than ever, are able and willing to not only work, but also have the opportunity to learn throughout life. Many countries have already developed the so-called third age universities and lifelong education system as a whole, as well as the integration of the elderly population in the structure of freelance employment (OECD, 2008).

Due to favourable revolutionary global changes, the essence of which is the use of information technology and the empowerment of civil society, as well as due to wide dissemination of new methods of treatment and prevention of ageing, one can now more often see people that do not meet the established stereotypes of the past. These are people who look good in old age, do sports, work or involve in activities previously considered to be related to youth only. Increasingly often, the biological age of a person is substantially smaller than one’s actual age (Olshansky et al., 2006; Peterson, 1999). Such people have different patterns of behaviour, other claims and possibilities; age gradually stops playing a crucial role in interpersonal communication, society is becoming more ageless. In the family structure, we can expect such changes as increased divorce rates, more common bigamous marriages which are characteristic of the older age groups, the growing proportion of marriages with a large age difference between the bride and groom (World Population Prospects, 2009; Peterson, 1999). Ageless society also leads to such phenomena as changes in employment (interception of jobs that are traditionally given to the young), strengthening of meritocracy (discrimination by merits), weakening of the age discrimination, and therefore, the reduction of benefits for the older (Doron, 2010; Olshansky et al., 2006).

In general, the common opinion is that as the number of older people will continue to grow, so will the needs for certain social services and health care systems. Increase of life expectancy means that pensions will have to be paid for more years than now. The most natural in a situation of increased life expectancy and expected health improvement would be to change of the pension policy and legislation, as the legal reflection of social problems in the modern world, as Neumann (1957) rationally marks.

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