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经济学人:全球老龄化 十亿银发族

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Global ageing

全球老龄化
A billion shades of grey
十亿银发族
An ageing economy will be a slower and more unequal one—unless policy starts changing now
一个老龄化的经济体会发展地越来越缓慢,且社会不平等加剧—除非现在就开始政策改革
WARREN BUFFETT, who on May 3rd hosts the folksy extravaganza that is Berkshire Hathaway's annual shareholders' meeting, is an icon of American capitalism. At 83, he also epitomises a striking demographic trend: for highly skilled people to go on working well into what was once thought to be old age. Across the rich world, well-educated people increasingly work longer than the less-skilled. Some 65% of American men aged 62-74 with a professional degree are in the workforce, compared with 32% of men with only a high-school certificate. In the European Union the pattern is similar.
沃伦巴菲特,这个美国资本主义的象征式人物,将于5月3号主持伯克希尔·哈撒韦公司一年一度的股东大会。83岁高龄的他也正代表了当前人口发展趋势的一个令人震惊的缩影:高技术人才在步入老年之后仍然继续工作。在富裕的国家,受过良好教育的人比低端技术工人工作时间更长。在美国,拥有专业学位且年龄在62到74岁之间的人中有大约65%仍然在岗,相较之下,拥有高中文凭的人只有32%还在工作。在欧洲情况也类似。

This gap is part of a deepening divide between the well-educated well-off and the unskilled poor that is slicing through all age groups. Rapid innovation has raised the incomes of the highly skilled while squeezing those of the unskilled. Those at the top are working longer hours each year than those at the bottom. And the well-qualified are extending their working lives, compared with those of less-educated people (see article). The consequences, for individuals and society, are profound.

这种差异体现了一种受过高等教育的富裕阶层和缺乏技能的穷人阶层之间日益加深的社会分化,而且这样的分化遍布各个年龄层。快速的创新增加了高技术人才的收入,却压缩了低技术工人的薪资。处于高层职位的人的工作时间和底层工人相比逐年递增,有资质的人的工作年限也比没有的人要多。这样的结果不论对于个人和社会来说,都有着深远的影响。
Older, wiser and a lot of them
数量众多的高技术人才变老了
The world is on the cusp of a staggering rise in the number of old people, and they will live longer than ever before. Over the next 20 years the global population of those aged 65 or more will almost double, from 600m to 1.1 billion. The experience of the 20th century, when greater longevity translated into more years in retirement rather than more years at work, has persuaded many observers that this shift will lead to slower economic growth and “secular stagnation”, while the swelling ranks of pensioners will bust government budgets.
世界的老龄人口正在以惊人的速度增长,并且他们越活越长。在未来的20年里,全球65岁以上的老年人数量将会翻番,从6000万到11亿。根据20世纪的经验来看,当长寿意味着更长的退休时间和更短的工作时间时,很多人都会感觉到明显的经济增速减缓和长期经济停滞,同时越来越多的养老金申领人口会导致政府的预算破产。
But the notion of a sharp division between the working young and the idle old misses a new trend, the growing gap between the skilled and the unskilled. Employment rates are falling among younger unskilled people, whereas older skilled folk are working longer. The divide is most extreme in America, where well-educated baby-boomers are putting off retirement while many less-skilled younger people have dropped out of the workforce.
当我们只关注于工作年轻人与闲散老年人的严重分化现象时,往往忽略了一个新的趋势,即不同人劳动技能之间日益加剧的差异。缺乏技能的年轻人的就业率在下降,而经验丰富的高技术人才却工作得越来越久。在美国,这样的分歧最为严重,婴儿潮时期出生的、受过良好教育的人们延迟退休,从而将技能不足的年轻人排挤出劳动力市场。
Policy is partly responsible. Many European governments have abandoned policies that used to encourage people to retire early. Rising life expectancy, combined with the replacement of generous defined-benefit pension plans with stingier defined-contribution ones, means that even the better-off must work longer to have a comfortable retirement. But the changing nature of work also plays a big role. Pay has risen sharply for the highly educated, and those people continue to reap rich rewards into old age because these days the educated elderly are more productive than their predecessors. Technological change may well reinforce that shift: the skills that complement computers, from management expertise to creativity, do not necessarily decline with age.
政策也要为此承担一部分责任。很多欧洲政府已经撤销了鼓励人们提早退休的政策。增长的寿命,再加上养老金计划从回报丰厚的固定收益型转为日趋紧缩的固定缴费型,这都意味着经济条件较好的人都不得不工作更长时间以保障一个安逸的晚年。另外,工作性质的改变也是原因之一。受过高等教育的人的工资显著增加,因为这些人的生产能力比前人更高,所以他们能将所得的高额酬劳储蓄起来作为晚年的保障。科技的转型也会增强这样的改变:像管理技巧和创造力这种不能够被计算机所取代的能力,不一定会因年龄老化而失去其价值。
This trend will benefit not just fortunate oldies but also, in some ways, society as a whole. Growth will slow less dramatically than expected; government budgets will be in better shape, as high earners pay taxes for longer. Rich countries with lots of well-educated older people will find the burden of ageing easier to bear than places like China, where half of all 50-to-64-year-olds did not complete primary-school education.
这种趋势不仅对那些幸运的老人们有好处,也令社会从中得益。经济增长不会像预期中那样急剧减缓:政府预算看起来会好得多,因为高收入者会纳税地更久。拥有大量受过良好教育的老年人的发达国家,其人口老龄化的负担会比其他地区轻得多,比如50至64岁人口中一半都没有完成小学教育的中国。
At the other end of the social scale, however, things look grim. Manual work gets harder as people get older, and public pensions look more attractive to those on low wages and the unemployed. In the lexicon of popular hate-figures, work-shirking welfare queens breeding at the taxpayer's expense may be replaced by deadbeat grandads collecting taxpayer handouts while their hard-working contemporaries strive on.
然而,从社会的另一个层面来讲情形并非如此乐观。随着年龄增长,体力劳动将会显得力不从心,因此对于低收入者和失业者来说公共养老金会更有吸引力。最招人讨厌的公众形象可能会从“好吃懒做、靠纳税人供养的福利皇后”变成“欠债不还、当同龄人还在努力工作时却只会伸手向纳税人讨救济品的养老金爷爷”。(“福利皇后”通常指的是中年黑人妇女,她们每天无所事事,子女也不做事,光吃社会福利——译者注)
Nor are all the effects on the economy beneficial. Wealthy old people will accumulate more savings, which will weaken demand. Inequality will increase and a growing share of wealth will eventually be transferred to the next generation via inheritance, entrenching the division between winners and losers still further.
对经济的影响并不全是有利的。富裕的老年人会积累更多的储蓄,因此会降低需求。社会不平等会增加,其中很大一部分财富会以遗产的形式转移给下一代,使得成功者与失败者之间的贫富差距鸿沟日益加大。
One likely response is to impose higher inheritance taxes. So long as they replaced less-fair taxes, that might make sense. They would probably encourage old people to spend their cash rather than salt it away. But governments should focus not on redistributing income but on generating more of it by reforming retirement and education.
一个可行的措施是施行高额遗产税。只要能够代替其他更缺乏公平的税收,遗产税还是较为合理的。这能使老年人花掉他们的积蓄而不是存起来。但政府也应该通过改革退休政策和教育体系来创造更多收入,而不能仅仅停留在重新分配收入的层面。
Age should no longer determine the appropriate end of a working life. Mandatory retirement ages and pension rules that discourage people from working longer should go. Welfare should reflect the greater opportunities open to the higher-skilled. Pensions should become more progressive. At the same time, this trend underlines the importance of increasing public investment in education at all stages of life, so that more people acquire the skills they need to thrive in the modern labour market. Today, many governments are understandably loth to spend money retraining older folk who are likely to retire soon. But if people can work for longer, that investment makes much more sense. Deadbeat 60-year-olds are unlikely to become computer scientists, but they could learn useful vocational skills, such as caring for the growing number of very old people.
工作年限不应该被年龄所限制。强制性退休年龄和养老金制度会让人们不想工作那么久,所以是不合理的,应该被淘汰。社会福利应该能够反映出针对高技术人才的广阔机遇。养老金应该更加循序渐进。与此同时,这个趋势也显示出加强对各个年龄段的公共教育投资的重要性,令更多的人获得能够在现代劳动力市场中得以立足的技能。如今,很多政府都懒得为那些马上就要退休的老年人花钱进行重新培训,这是可以理解的。但是,如果人们能够工作的更久,这种投资是有意义的。年届60且欠债不还的人不太可能成为计算机科学家。但他们能够学习一些职业技能,例如照顾数量越来越多的老年人。
Old power
老人的力量
How likely are governments to make these changes? Look around the rich world today, and it is hard to be optimistic. The swelling ranks of older voters, and their disproportionate propensity to vote, have left politicians keener to pander to them than to implement disruptive reforms. Germany, despite being the fastest-ageing country in Europe, plans to cut the statutory retirement age for some people. In America both Social Security (the public pension scheme) and the fast-growing system of disability benefits remain untouched by reform. Politicians need to convince less-skilled older voters that it is in their interests to go on working. Doing so will not be easy. But the alternative—economic stagnation and even greater inequality—is worse.
政府作出改变的可能性有多大?放眼当今的发达国家,情况不容乐观。越来越多的老年选民会令投票结果失衡,政治家为了迎合他们而不会做出根本性的改革。尽管德国是欧洲地区老龄化速度最快的国家,也计划对某部分人降低退休年龄。在美国,社保(公共养老金体系)和快速增长的残障人士福利体系都被隔绝在改革的进程之外。政治家需要说服那些缺乏劳动技能的老年选民:让你们继续工作是为了你们好。这么做可不容易。但是若非如此的话,后果将是经济萧条和更大的社会不平等,那就更糟糕了。
重点单词   查看全部解释    
accumulate [ə'kju:mjuleit]

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vt. 积聚,累加,堆积
vi. 累积

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mandatory ['mændətəri]

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adj. 命令的,强制性的,受委托的 n. 受托管理者

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unpredictable ['ʌnpri'diktəbl]

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adj. 不可预知的

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eventually [i'ventjuəli]

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adv. 终于,最后

 
scale [skeil]

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n. 鳞,刻度,衡量,数值范围
v. 依比例决

 
acquire [ə'kwaiə]

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vt. 获得,取得,学到

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propensity [prə'pensiti]

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n. 倾向,习性

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alternate [ɔ:l'tə:nit,'ɔ:ltə:neit]

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adj. 交替的,轮流的,间隔的
v. 交替,

 
appropriate [ə'prəupriət]

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adj. 适当的,相称的
vt. 拨出(款项)

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innovation [.inəu'veiʃən]

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n. 创新,革新

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