Looking at the world, the aging of the global population is bringing economic, political, cultural and family impacts, which are closely related to everyone’s life.
Marcos Ruiz, a sturdy Spaniard, put the second cigarette on the ashtray in the restaurant and poured himself a glass of fuchsia red wine. Only in these short seconds did he stop swallowing clouds and fog. Marcos is an editor of a large Spanish publishing house and an old smoker. When the cigarette in his hand was finished, he knocked out a cigarette from the cigarette case to light it. Madrid’s restaurants have already enacted new regulations on smoking bans, but during the busy lunch hour at two in the afternoon, no one is free to watch you.
Cigarettes and red wine give Marcos’s tone and laughter extra weight. Fluffy brown bangs, poet’s beard and sharp dark eyes add a bit of otherworldly authority to his erudite commentary. Although Marcos is only in his early 40s, the country’s aging process has already affected him.
Aging and globalization
In fact, aging has affected the whole of Spain. The aging of the people seems to have become a common and immediate phenomenon, and it has become a fixed public issue. Like global warming, the fall of peak oil, political hostility between left and right, a steady stream of immigrants and immigrants’ faith in Islam, fierce competition in the Spanish Football League, and the Spanish national football team that won the 2010 World Cup, the ageing has been It is a topic that people talk about after dinner. However, what everyone is concerned about is not only aging itself, but also the impact of aging on the entire society.
”Spanish news can cover almost any topic,” Marcos commented, “but in the end it can be related to population aging anyway.” There is a long list of such examples. One example is the real estate crash that began in 2007. Until mid-2010, even though the price had fallen to the bottom, 1.6 million units could not be sold. This figure is about one-fifth less than the bleak US housing market, but the housing market population in the US is 9 times that of Spain. Spain is unable to get out of the economic quagmire or solve the huge national debt problem. One of the reasons that people often put forward is the aging and growing dependent population.
Eighty percent of Spanish households’ property is real estate, so when house prices plummet and the number of houses on the market rises, the property of Spanish elderly people has fallen sharply. During the Greek debt crisis, Spain’s Workers’ Socialist Party tried to carry out reforms to prevent the crisis from spreading to the country. The reform includes raising the retirement age from 65 to 67, freezing pensions, and relaxing the company’s dismissal conditions. The government encountered widespread protests, and certain protests nearly paralyzed Madrid.
To take another example, newspapers and TV news forums are enthusiastically discussing the immigration issue in Spain. They believe that the large influx of new immigrants is related to the need for young and cheap labor in Spain’s elderly population. The average age of Spanish natives is about 43 years old, and the average age of immigrants to Spain is 32 years old. This gap makes people generally believe that loose immigration policies can increase the working-age population and help reduce the heavy pension burden of the elderly that is expected to begin in 2030-the baby boom population in the 1960s and 1970s will be concentrated Retire during this period. However, research conducted by the Bank of Spain pointed out that the sudden influx of foreign workers will have a huge impact on labor supply in the short term, and greatly reduce the technical content of the labor force. The global labor market was thus introduced into the Spanish domestic economy.
From “youngest” to “oldest”
Today, 12% of the Spanish population was born abroad. However, foreigners are a completely new phenomenon in modern Spain. Historically, Spain sent a large number of people to all parts of the world. After the end of World War II, Spaniards were employed in other European countries in low-paying jobs such as agriculture, industry, and housework, similar to the occupations that many immigrants come to Spain today. In the 1950s and 1960s, 1.2 million Spanish workers (the Spanish population was 30.5 million in the 1960s), the vast majority of them were very poor, both men and women, young and old, and had to leave their homes to find work. Foreign employers regularly recruit Spaniards in poor rural areas. Thousands of people willing to work in Germany take a chartered train to go directly to the factory or to the city’s railway station, where families will pick them up to work.
In the 1960s and 1970s, under the rule of Franco, a conservative and enthusiastic dictator of family values, there were so many young people in Spain that they could be used by other countries. The government actively promotes the export of workers, hoping to use this to obtain foreign exchange. The embarrassment of Southern Europe today is that in the memory of each family, there is always a relative or fellow villager who cannot make a living because his hometown is too poor and too crowded, and has to leave home to work in another place. For them, the wave of new immigrants who have poured into Spain in recent years is repeating their original story, but the ending is full of irony and distortion: Spain was once the youngest country with the highest fertility rate in Europe, but now it has become the oldest and least willing Country of birth.
Like Florida in the United States, the prosperity and decline of the Spanish economy for decades has mainly depended on the tourism industry and the people who come here to live in retirement. Spain began to seriously attract foreign retirees during Franco’s rule in the 1960s. The government turned the local sunshine into a resource to attract tourists and retirees to come, while also fighting for foreign exchange for Spain. Franco’s death in 1975 was followed by a construction boom. By 1980, the construction industry and the service industry that had emerged to meet the needs of the retired population were also thriving. Today Spain is home to 300,000 British retirees and a large number of retirees from Germany and Scandinavia. Now, some elderly foreigners themselves are also in poverty. They come to settle in Spain, making Spain an increasingly aging country.
In 1953, only one in every 500 Spanish residents was born abroad. By the early 1990s, the ratio had increased to one in every 100 residents. Then, suddenly immigrants began to flood in. Every year, hundreds of thousands of South Americans, Africans and people from the Soviet camp countries looking for work come to Spain. Most of Spain’s population growth comes from these foreign populations. Likewise, Spain’s strong economic growth during this period is also attributed to them. The successive arrivals of workers have allowed the older natives of Spain to climb to the upper level of the economic food chain, leaving low-productivity and low-paying jobs for the young migrant population.
Immigration provides Spain’s notoriously solidified labor force with an opportunity to unwind, and the Spaniards are also willing to accept this transaction, leaving low-level jobs to immigrants, and leaving high-level jobs to the Spanish. The Madrid metropolitan area, second only to London and Paris, is the third largest urban agglomeration in Europe. It has suddenly become one of the most international population centers in Europe. Foreign immigrants now constitute nearly one-third of Madrid’s population. Overall, nearly one in eight people in Spain, or more than 5.6 million people, is now registered as a foreigner. Taking into account that unregistered persons and natural immigrants are not counted, this number may increase by more than 1 million.
“Empty Nest” Rural Shrinking Families
The Spanish countryside is aging faster than any other region in Europe. Young people leave the town one after another, causing the villages to be destroyed one by one. In areas where agriculture is still labor-intensive, such as Aragon, no matter whether there is a high yield or a poor harvest, there must be manpower to pick fruits. However, the outflow, aging and urban prosperity make labor shortage the norm, and it is not solved until foreign labor comes to Spain. this problem. However, when the unemployment rate from 2008 to 2010 has been hovering around 20%, the first generation of Spanish urbanites returned to the countryside abandoned by the new generation. Tens of thousands of laborious and low-paying farm jobs that originally required a large number of foreign workers have now reappeared as native Spanish people. When the economy is booming, an aging society like Spain needs new workers, but when the economy is in recession, it is difficult to get these workers to work.
Under economic pressure, the elderly increase savings to reduce expenditure, delay retirement as much as possible, and if necessary, they will also seek low-paying jobs. They are less tolerant of outsiders, unwilling to spend taxes on social service providers for immigrants and their children, and hope that this money can be spent on the elderly population in Spain, who now have expensive needs.
Year after year, Spain’s population problem is getting worse. Over the past 25 years, Spain’s population over 65 has increased by 75%, and each woman of childbearing age has an average of 1.35 children, almost close to the world’s lowest level. Spanish women usually have their first child at the age of 30, which is also the oldest in Europe.
No matter where you compare the elderly and the young in Spain, you can see the same trend. Spain has more than 1 million more people over the age of 65 than under 14 and this gap will continue to widen as the fertility rate declines and the population shrinks. It is estimated that by 2050, Spain’s population will be 3 million less than in 2009, and various social sectors that require the continuous participation of young people are in crisis. The percentage of Spaniards going to college has increased, but after consecutive years of declining birth rates, the college-age population has also decreased.
The family populations in Spain and Southern Europe are declining. Critics have a lot of mockery and complaints about this. They worry that the decline in fertility will reduce this area to what Washington strategists call “a strategically insignificant area.” This view is not unfounded. Canadian conservative critic Mark Steyn stated in his 2006 work “Lonely America” that this “castrated era” in Europe will be created “in a century.” Politically and culturally semi-Islamic” continent, by the end of the 21st century, the whole of Europe “will be bombed by neutron bombs: the magnificent buildings will still stand unshakable, but there will be no one who built them.” , They will disappear from this world due to the declining birth rate.
Demographic critics in Spain and Europe attribute demographic changes to egoism, laziness, and negativity. However, this statement completely deviates from the facts. The demographic changes in Spain stem from firm choices made by individuals and countries, and such choices are still ongoing. These measurements are not made lightly. Every day, people estimate the pros and cons of longevity and small families. The demographic changes in Spain and most of Europe are not self-destructive, but self-determining.
The average age of Spanish natives is about 43 years old, and the average age of immigrants to Spain is 32 years old. This gap makes people generally believe that loose immigration policies can increase the working-age population and help reduce the heavy pension burden of the elderly that is expected to begin in 2030-the baby boom population in the 1960s and 1970s will be concentrated Retire during this period.
Where are the soldiers?
The decline in the number of young people has led to a decrease in the number of people eligible for military service in Spain. In 2004, when the new socialist government led by Zapatero withdrew from the Iraqi battlefield, the change in the domestic demographic situation was one of the fundamental factors. First of all, Spain’s shrinking young population and small families make the lives of young Spaniards more precious. Compared with the country’s belligerent past, sacrifices are not so affordable. Secondly, a growing proportion of young people in the country are newly immigrant Muslims. If its allies engage in war with Islamic countries, the situation in the rear will become more complicated.
A glass tower stands at the Atocha Railway Station, the symbol of Madrid, to commemorate the tragic incident in March 2004 when 10 bombs exploded in the Madrid train system, which killed 191 people and injured more than 1,800. After the government’s investigation, it was found that the main suspect was a Moroccan who was instigated by al-Qaida. Moroccans from the southern bank of the Strait of Gibraltar are Spain’s largest immigrant group. There are more than 650,000 people living in Spain, most of whom have moved there after 1999.
During the economic downturn, anxiety about immigrants of working age has triggered various discussions. Some people believe that immigrants have robbed Spaniards of jobs, threatened Catholic Spain, and contributed to the “European” and “Arab” combination. With the rise of the new word Cheng), the government began to provide money for immigrants to return to their countries of origin.
Of course, the most common view is that if Spaniards have as many children and grandchildren as in the past, there is no need for immigration.
In the shadow of aging, the news is always filled with melancholy. But looking around the place where Marcos ate, the Spaniard, who was worried about aging, seemed happy here. The restaurant was full of people, and during the two-hour lunch time, such a lively scene continued.
If the most likely longevity practice in the world is a strict low-calorie diet, then this news obviously cannot move the Spanish. Spain is the country with the longest life expectancy in the European Union. The life expectancy of men is 77.7 years and that of women is 84.4 years. Spain has a population of 10,000 or older, which is 3 times that of France (the French population is 1.5 times that of Spain) and 5 times that of Italy (the population of Italy is more than one-third more than that of Spain).