A recent IISA and Linz University study finds that the mental decline of aging populations may have worse consequences than we realize. The research concludes that nations must drastically “improve the cognition” of their children for them to become mentally competent as aging workers who will keep our economies stable.
The good news is that the study also finds compulsory education slows cognitive decline among the elderly, no matter what the age structure of their countries' populations.
Why do we need the wake-up call that a study like this provides? In its May 2013 open letter, UNICEF tells us “all too often... education...and rights of children are not seen as being inextricably linked to ensuring economic growth and shared prosperity.”
This is a good observation as far as it goes, but it does not specifically note that poorly educated workers may face a greater incidence of dementia and that their countries may endure economic instability as a result.
Similarly, the December 2013 “G8 Dementia Summit Communique” stresses that as populations age, the cost of healthcare will likely increase disproportionately, but it does not mention the effect dementia may have on productivity.
We need to educate children now to avert the consequences of widespread dementia later.