Offshore Investment

Aged Population to Stress the Economy

Aged populations will be the norm by 2020, placing a great deal of stress on world wide economic systems, especially those founded on government backed treasuries and bonds. Other areas of weakness will be Social Security and Medicare. As our population ages, we can expect higher taxes on our IRA and passive investments. Here’s why the average age of our population matters and how to protect yourself.

Definition: An aged population is a country where 7% or more of the population is 65 or older. A super-aged society has 20% or more of its citizens over 65. We assume people will retire at 65.

Over the next 6 years, the number of super-aged societies will increase from 3 to 20. According to an August 6th report from Moody’s, this nearly seven fold increase will place a great deal of stress on our economy and the United States dollar.

Here’s Why Aged Population Matters

Studies have shown that, as a population ages, the demand for treasuries and bonds increase. The higher the average age, the higher the reliance on fixed income government backed instruments. The bottom line is that pensioners go for fixed income instruments as “safer” than stocks and real estate.

Large changes in behavior move markets. Higher demand for fixed income investments will push prices down. But, the U.S. is now returning about 2%, and 45% of the world markets are returning 1% or less on their government backed fixed income instruments. There’s just no where for these markets to go.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. Let me take a step back and explain.

Of the developed nations, most of the European Union is aged. Also, the United States, Canada, and Australia have aged populations. The super-aged nations are Germany (with returns on bonds of 1% or less), Italy, and Japan. Japan has the oldest average population in the world.

By 2015, Finland and Greece (a model of financial stability) will join the group of super-aged nations. The Netherlands, Portugal, Slovenia and Sweden will arrive at the party by 2020. Eleven more countries will pile on by 2025.

Of the developing nations, or the BRICS, Russia, Brazil, and China are all aged. None are at risk of becoming super-aged.

These changes have a profound effect on our economy. For example, Moodys found that world savings declines by .5% to 1.2% for each 1% increase in the aged population. That is to say, for every 1% increase in those 65 or older, we see a .5% to 1.2% decrease in total savings.

As retirees begin to deplete their IRA accounts, and live on their savings rather than saving and spending their salaries, the average level of savings decreases. When countries become aged or super-aged, the result can stress the market.

When you combine this with lower returns on treasures and fixed income instruments (bonds for example), we can expect the level of savings to decrease at a faster rate. As returns decrease, retirees will need to reduce their expenses (quality of life) and increase their rate of withdrawal.

Let’s look at another statistic…yes, I’m in a numbered state of mind today.

The “support ratio” is the number of eligible adults expected to be working. These working adults are paying in to the system and keeping the system afloat. As the average age of the population increases, the number of workers paying in to the system decreases, further straining an already dire situation.

The lowest support ratio is found in Japan. This country has 48.7 persons aged 65 or over for every 100 eligible worker in the 15 to 65 age range. By 2020 the burden of 1 retiree will be carried by only 2 workers. A ratio that many believe to be unsustainable.

Thirteen European countries, including Sweden and Germany, will have ratios between 2.7 to 1 and 3.3 to 1 by 2020. Canada is currently at 3.6 to 1 and the United States is at 3.9 to 1. In Asia, South Korea is 4.6 to 1 and China is 6:1.

Note that these numbers count eligible workers, not the actual number of people in the workforce. The higher a country’s unemployment rate, the greater the threat.

Nations in current financial crisis with extremely high unemployment rates are under more immediate pressure than those with lower unemployment. Greece and Portugal have more pressing concerns with their aged populations than does Germany or Japan.

The United States is hiding the truth in its unemployment  statistics. While the rate seems to be improving, we don’t know how many workers have simply stopped looking for work and therefore are no longer considered unemployed. We do know the U.S. has a 62% labor participation rate. If applied to our support ratio, it could move from 3.9 to 1 to 2.2 to 1 (though, this is a mixed bag and like comparing apples to mangos).

What does all this mean to you?

  • We can expect even higher taxes on capital gains and retirement account distributions.
  • The nationalizing of the retirement account system to cover debts from Social Security becomes more likely.
  • The age of retirement may be increased.
  • The assets within your IRA will become targets of the IRS and other cash strapped agencies. Remember that the IRS may seize your retirement account and State laws, such as homestead exemptions, don’t protect you.
  • As the government continues to focus on controlling capital, limitations on IRAs will increase. Most believe the right to take your IRA offshore will be eliminated.

The bottom line is that retirees will be required to make even greater sacrifices to keep the U.S. financial system afloat. It will fall upon you to keep the economy together. We don’t know exactly what form these forced contributions will take, but we know they are coming.

I hope you have found this post on our aged population thought provoking. For information on how to take your IRA offshore, or for questions on any article on this site, please send an email at

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