Dr. Michael Birt featured in The Daily Beast article 'The Geriatric Crossroads'

The Geriatric Crossroads

Originally published Sept 24th, 2012 on the Daily Beast
by Andrew Sullivan


Jeff Wheelwright argues that Sun City, Arizona, "the once and future retirement mecca" with a population of 38,000 and a fertility rate of zero, provides a glimpse of our impending demographic troubles:

[Gerontologist Michael Birt] describes a favorite graphic of his, derived from a 2007 United Nations publication. He calls it “Solving for X” because of the problem it raises for the world’s health-care systems. Two lines are crossing, the percentage of people over 65 and the percentage under 5. Back in 1950, children predominated in the world; in 2050 the seniors will be on top. “The percent over 65 and under 5 are trading places,” Birt says. “We’re almost at the X spot.” The forecast date for global X to occur is 2017, but each country will arrive at the transition at a different time. “Japan blasted through its intersection years ago,” he notes.
Was there a single factor to account for this world-shaking reversal? “Yes,” [Jennifer Glick, a sociologist and demographer at the ASU Center for Population Dynamics] says. “You start educating girls.”