Infographics demi-god Ben Fry has created another interactive infographic for GE, and it’s truly a jawdropper.
This time, Fry has tackled the aging crisis facing many countries in the developed world. Why’s that a problem? Five words: social security and health care. As a country’s demographics tilt older, that means there’s fewer working citizens powering the economy and paying taxes. And fewer taxes means there’s less money to fund retirement programs for the elderly and their ballooning health care bills (which increase with age). Moreover, it means that greater and greater portions of a society’s resources are going to taking care of it’s populace–rather than investment in innovation, among other things.
Just how big a problem is that? The chart couldn’t be couldn’t be simpler. You can click on each of seven different countries, and see a bar chart showing exactly how many people there are in each age bracket. What’s more, you can hit “play” on an animation that shows how these populations are changing over time, from 1950 to 2050.
Up top is what the U.S. and China will look like in 2011. Below is what they’ll look like in 2050:
Obviously, the changing shape of the chart reveals how much the aging problem will become. China is particularly screwed: The demographics problem you see below is one reason why economists sometimes say the greatest problem China faces, given its decades-long one-child policy, is whether it can grow rich before it grows old. Meanwhile, the U.S. actually looks relatively lucky, for a rich country (partly thanks to our steady flow of immigrants).
Meanwhile, China and the U.S. have nothing on Germany or Japan, which will face a extraordinarily difficult future:
Check out the interactive chart here.
For more of the infographics by Ben Fry which we’ve featured before, click here.