Summary of Shock of Gray

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  • Innovative
  • Eye Opening
  • Engaging


If age is just a number, then that number is about to present enormous global consequences in the next few decades. So says veteran journalist Ted C. Fishman in his around-the-world study of how an aging planetary population will affect all aspects of society, including business, government and family life. Fishman’s in-depth study leans heavily on stories, anecdotes and conversations, backed by extensive statistics and impressive academic research. His tales are as entertaining as they are illuminating, pointing out the contradictions, foibles and hard realities of life lived on a graying globe. getAbstract highly recommends Fishman’s all-encompassing look at old age – not just to older people or the middle-aged, but also to members of younger demographics, who are about to embark on an unprecedented journey with their elders into the future.

About the Author

Ted C. Fishman writes for The New York Times, The New York Times Magazine, The Wall Street Journal, National Geographic, The Sunday Times, Harpers, USA Today, GEO and other prominent publications. He is also a frequent keynote speaker.



The Silver Lining

The estimated life span of a person in ancient Rome was 25; by 1900, that number had advanced only to 30 years old in most of the world. Today, average longevity globally has reached 64. The world’s population is undoubtedly getting older. Medical advances that extend life spans portend relatively greater numbers of oldsters in upcoming decades. Meanwhile, declining birthrates guarantee that elders will be a larger percentage of the population. In the US, the number of people aged 75 to 85 will almost double by 2050, by which time the country will have 2.5 million centenarians. Senior citizens will make up 40% of Japan’s population by 2050. Europe’s elder populace will grow faster than any other age cohort. Even developing nations are aging, with the proportion of children dropping and the proportion of over-60s rising. The impact a graying planet will have on future businesses and lifestyles is already in sight.

Some companies are learning “how to turn silver into gold” for profits. For example, Lifeline, a US company, provides monitoring services for elderly clients. Reacting around the clock to electronic signals from necklace or wrist devices, ...

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