Shock of Gray

Shock of Gray

By Ted C. Fishman (2010)

There are many aspects of aging issue that the author brings up in the book. It is quite overwhelming to read this book. After reading, you will realise that there are many things in life especially with the issue of aging. I am not sure whether increasing life expectancy is a good thing, but it is changing and something that one must accept.

There are some examples that the author brings in about aging in different places : Spain, Japan, US and China.

Year by year, Spain’s numbers become more stark. The number of people over 65 in Spain has grown about 75%, while the average birthrate 1.35 children per woman of childbearing age, is near the bottom globally.

The thinning ranks of the young also shrink the ranks of Spaniards eligible for military service. In 2004, the new Socialist government withdraw Spain’s soldiers from the war in Iraq, Spain’s shifting demographics were one of the underlying factors. For another, a growing percentage of young men in Spain are newly arrived Muslims. That complicates the home front if Spain allies in a war against Islamic nations.

The demand for paid domestic help has also turned new immigration to Spain,especially into a largely female enterprise. Women, especially women with fewer children are a central part of the Spanish workforce today, and their presence will be needed in great numbers as the country ages. There is a big difference between women having 2 children, and those having 3, the number of children that Spainish women find impossible to manage while holding on to a job. Among the country’s mothers of three, a mere 4 out of every 1000 work.




In 2005, Japan became the first modern, industrial nation to shrink in population for reasons unrelated to war or disease.  The aging of the country’s population is as startling as its decrease, where 21.5% of the population is over  65 and 10% is over seventy. As the supply of workers shrinks, employers try to cope by arbitraging youth, choosing less expensive younger workers abroad.

Most young Japanese are also reluctant to study in engineering and other techology-related fields, as they know that the Chinese, Indian and Brazilian engineers can fill for one-tenth to one-third of the Japanese starting wage. Hence, students have drift to fields such as law and medicine that are less dirty, and less likely to be undercut by industries aggressively seeking ways abroad to avoid the shortages and costs at home.



United States

In November 2005, the superintendent of the city’s public schools announced the Kalamazoo Promise, one of the most generous pledges in American history. A group of anonymous donors had pooled their resources and pledged to provide every schoolchild in the city with tution money to attend any public college or university in Michigan. Those children who started in the Kalamazoo school system in kindergarten and graduated from high school would have all their tution paid.

In 2010, the program was seeing its first college grads complete their studies, and altogether was providing school money to more than 860 students. The Kalamazoo Promise doesn’t require students to do much more than live here, go to school here, and graduate. The whole idea, is to build local assets and eventually to draw many new families into the school system and the community.




The One Child Policy could also be called the Six Elders Per Child Family. When the policy is strictly followed, single-ton children have two parents and 4 grandparents to look after them when they are young. Later, when a singleton child works, he or she may well have 4 grandparents and 2 parents to support.

The 1-2-4 family pyramid is what the state has created, and what the state now leans on to provide family support. The burden is light when there are 6 adult looking after one child, but overwhelming when there’s one adult child helping to support 6 adults. And in China, the law demands that children support their parents. I think this type of family structure is quite destructive itself…. no wonder lots of young people in China wants to commit suicide to escape the heavy and expected responsibility given to them.






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