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Lessons from Pension Reform in the Americas$
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Stephen J. Kay and Tapen Sinha

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9780199226801

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2008

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199226801.001.0001

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Foreword: Toward an Era of Longevity and Wealth

Foreword: Toward an Era of Longevity and Wealth

(p.1) Foreword: Toward an Era of Longevity and Wealth
Lessons from Pension Reform in the Americas

Robert W. Fogel

Oxford University Press

This foreword provides an overview of demographic development during the past three centuries, as life expectancy and per-capita growth of GDP have increased dramatically. Due to the intense interplay between physiological improvement and technological advances, humans have increased their body size by more than 50% in the past two centuries, and the betterment of general sanitation, reduction of air pollution in the cities, and higher food intake have improved life expectancy. It is argued that demographers have consistently underestimated the impact of such improvements and, consequently, have underestimated gains in life expectancy. With more workers living longer and healthier lives, men in Western countries have four times more leisure than they did a century ago, and this trend will continue. This achievement has devastating financial implications for already overburdened social security systems and calls for a careful re-examination of social security to ensure future sustainability.

Keywords:   life expectancy, economic growth, social security, demographic development, technological advances, leisure

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