Aging and the Aged
The social impact of a long life is not always viewed uncritically, especially among the elderly. Retirement provisions are now the Swiss people's greatest concern, securing them is seen as the most important goal for the country.
As in most industrialized countries, the population in Switzerland is graying as well. In 1900, there were fewer than 200,000 people over the age of 65; today, there are nearly one and a half million of them. This population age group has increased sevenfold in just under 120 years, while the overall population has only slightly more than doubled over the same period.
Such a radical shift in the population pyramid means, on the one hand, that pension systems will have to be adapted and, on the other hand, that coexistence will have to be redefined. This year's Worry Barometer asked: "How do you assess the social impact of a longer life?" Not surprisingly, the vast majority of people look forward to this (broadly defined) impact (with 68 percent saying that they welcome it), but one in four respondents say that they do not welcome this social change very much or at all.
And looking at the responses by age group, the results are even more surprising: The vast majority of respondents under age 70 (67 percent and above) welcome the social impact of people living longer. However, only 55 percent of respondents over age 70 look forward to this change, while 35 percent do not look forward to it very much or at all. Why is this? Do older respondents think that society has not changed enough to meet their needs? Or are their views of a longer life simply less positive than the (overly) rosy conceptions of living longer that younger people have?
The study posed other questions about living longer, and the responses make for interesting reading. For example, 62 percent said that the financial safety net for older people in Switzerland is inadequate. This matches the Worry Barometer finding that the Swiss pension system AHV has the greatest need for reform. An OECD study also found that retirement income in Switzerland is relatively low for many retirees compared to other European countries – though this is due in part to lump-sum withdrawals in employee benefits insurance.
Long-term care insurance is currently not mandatory in Switzerland. According to the Worry Barometer, 48 percent of Swiss respondents say that they want mandatory long-term care insurance. Because another 8 percent of respondents had no opinion, such an initiative would probably have a good chance of succeeding at the ballot box.
Finally, on an optimistic note: 57 percent are convinced that life in old age will be more comfortable thanks to automation and robots.