Learn English – Aging problem in Hong Kong

Aging problem in Hong KongAlice: Hello! I’m Alice and this is 6 Minute English. I’m joined today by

Abdu. Hi Abdu.

Abdu: Hi Alice.

Alice: Today we’re talking about ageing populations, pensions and retirement.

I’m going to start by asking you Abdu – what age do you expect to retire?

Abdu: I’m planning to retire around 65 to 70.

Alice: And do you have a pension?

Abdu: Unfortunately not.

Alice: I’ve also got a third question – according to the United Nations

in 1950, 8% of the world’s population was over 60 years old. Currently

11% of the world’s population is over 60. Any guesses what percentage

will be over 60 in 2050?

Abdu: I’m not sure – it looks like it’s going up? I would guess 15%.

Alice: Have a think about it and I’ll let you know at the end of the programme.

There are lots of terms for people who have reached retirement age.

Official terms in British English are ‘OAP – which stands for old aged

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pensioner’ and in American English ‘Senior Citizen’ or ‘Senior’.

Abdu: You hear the term OAP less frequently these days in the UK. It doesn’t

sound as respectful perhaps as ‘Senior Citizen’.

Alice: In many countries, economists and politicians are talking about the impact of

an ageing population. In many countries around the world people are living

longer and will spend more time in retirement. Experts are worried about how

we will pay for the health and services for an increasing number of people in


Abdu: Some people save money in pension plans or retirement funds as they’re

called in the United States. What’s interesting is how many people don’t have

pensions despite the warnings given by governments about saving for

retirement. According to a BBC survey, only 2 out of every 10 people around

the world have a pension.

Alice: We asked people if they were scared about getting old and not having enough

money to live on. Here’s what they said:

Extract 1:

Goodness there’s a question – I currently have a pension in my job so I’m not too

worried that way and I’m also hoping to save for my retirement and for later years by

owning property and renting that out and selling it on when I need more income. I’m

not fussed about getting old –we all have to get older sometime, you know, so I’m not

scared about it. Life is life and that’s the way life should be. I’m not scared about getting

older or being unemployed, at all. Not very scared – I’m more scared about getting older

than being unemployed. Terrified. Absolutely terrified – I don’t know what’s going to

happen in the future. I’m really worried and I really need to sort that out.

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Alice: Some people have other plans for how they will survive financially when

they retire. One man said he was hoping to save for retirement by

owning property and renting it out or selling it when he needs more


Abdu: And one man said he was terrified – very very frightened about what’s

going to happen in the future because he hasn’t thought about planning

for retirement

Alice: In some countries the age of retirement is being increased so that

people will work longer before they collect their pensions. This is very

controversial in some societies.

Abdu: In France people went on strike to complain about proposals to

increase the retirement age from 60 to 62

Alice: And in the UK, some people in their 20s and 30s are annoyed that they

may have to work longer than people in previous generations –

especially those born in the 1940s and 50s who are sometimes called

the baby boomer generation.

Abdu: The baby boomers – people born between the years of 1945 and 1964

after the Second World War, when there was a large increase in the

number of children born.

Alice: Here’s Rosamund Irwin, a 26-year-old journalist, talking to her father

Nigel, a 60-year-old lawyer. She thinks life is going to be very difficult

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for young people in the future:

Extract 2:

Well, I think the baby boomers are guilty of great generational injustice. What they’ve

done to the future is they have had the very advantageous position of having access to

very generous pensions. They’ve had cheap housing when they came out of university

and they didn’t pay to go to university. This problem that arises is because of changes in

demographics, and the expectation that we’ll all live longer and I think that the next

generation has every prospect of living longer, than we baby boomer generation. And so

if they want to complain that they’ve got to work longer to earn those pensions it’s

because they will live longer overall.

Alice: So Rosamund Irwin says it’s unfair that her generation will have to

work longer than her parents did. She says there is generational injustice.

Abdu: She says her parent’s generation started from an advantageous position.

Alice: They have generous pensions and had cheap housing compared to today.

But her father says his generation shouldn’t be blamed. He thinks

the problem arises because of changes in demographics. In this case,

that’s the spread of ages across the population, the fact that there are

more older people than there were before.

Abdu: But he says that younger people have every prospect of living longer.

Alice: I think he means that the younger generation should be grateful that

they will live longer than people have ever done before – but they

will have to pay for it. So have you had a thought about our question at

the beginning of the programme Abdu? What percentage of the world’s

population will be over the age of 60 in 2050?

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Abdu: I’m sticking with my original answer – 15%.

Alice: Actually, it’s a bit higher. By the middle of this century, the United

Nations estimates that 22% of people will be over the age of 60.

Well that’s all we’ve got time for today. Thanks for joining us and see

you next time.

Alice/Abdu: Bye!

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