The course problemizes current issues relating to aging societies. An increasing share of elderly, through an increasing life expectancy and– by historical proportions – low fertility has characterized Sweden and other developed countries for a long time. If this did not constitute a challenge before, why is it the case today? Is the welfare state as we today know it compatible with an aging society? How can we finance the welfare of an increasing share of elderly, with a steadily declining work force? Can this be done through increased immigration? Furthermore, what consequences does an aging society have for labor supply, savings, investments, and economic growth? The course initially takes a broad perspective on the challenges that welfare states face, today and in the future. A focus is directed towards how the challenges are linked to an aging population and its implications for the costs of the welfare system and how it is financed. In order to better understand how current and future challenges have emerged, the historical origins of welfare systems, in Sweden and elsewhere, is discussed. Furthermore, historical fertility, mortality and migration patterns are discussed, linking short and long-term population changes – both size and composition – to economic growth. The student is also provided with a thorough review of key theoretical as well as empirical literature in the field. Finally, the course discusses a range of potential solutions to how welfare systems can be inanced during coming decades, through savings, increased labor force participation, productivity increases, and taxes.
Course evaluations (in Swedish):
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