Is the fiscal crisis forcing a rethink of our intergenerational compact with the elderly?

21 January 2011

As part of the Oxford Martin School’s Seminar Series on Intergenerational Justice, Professor Peter S. Heller of the School of Advanced International Studies of The Johns Hopkins University will examine whether the time-honored compact of an intergenerational sharing of the burden of an elderly population is in need of being revisited in the wake of the current fiscal crisis. Is the aging of the population akin to climate change—a looming burden on future generations that current young and working-age generations should seek to limit, even at its own future expense? Or do future young and working-age generations have an obligation to support the future elderly? Is the current financial crisis sufficient cause for a revisiting of a social compact that has such long antecedents? Or is it simply a convenient pretext for coming to grips with the oncoming major shift in the age structure of populations that will force such a revisiting?