Sunday 1 August 2021

2021 Ageing and Armed Forces


                                                      AGING AND ARMED FORCES


                                                                               Dr. Eduardo C. Gerding


This article deals with the demographic revolution in Argentina, its projection

over time and the impact on its Armed Forces. The process of population aging

that is taking place is unprecedented and will affect the life and development of

modern society. The United Nations (2017) estimated that the world population

aged 65 and older is expected to pass 2 billion and the population aged 80 and

older to pass 1 billion, respectively, by 2050.


Cet article traite de la révolution démographique en Argentine, de sa projection

dans le temps et de son impact sur ses forces armées. Le processus de

vieillissement de la population en cours est sans précédent et affectera la vie et

le développement de la société moderne.

 How is the current Argentine population made up 15,23,52

Population estimates and projects Total country Demographic Analysis Series Number 30 INDEC Demographic Observatory Number 3, ECLAC / CELADE 2007.

 When observing this graph, a gradual increase in the population over 65 is

observed, which, by 2050, would constitute 19% of the population (that is,1 in 5

Argentines).  Vulnerable population is the group of people who are in a state of

vulnerability or incapacity against a threat to their psychological, physical and

mental condition, among others. According to the United Nations (1956),

populations are "young" if they have less than 4% of people aged 65 and over;

"Mature" if they are between 4 and 6%, and "aged" if they exceed 7% of people

in the above group. 37. In Argentina there are 105 women for every

100 men, but this ratio increases in the sector of 65 or more years. 10

The most useful population range for the armed forces (25 to 54 years old) will

represent only 39.46% of the Argentine population.

 In Spain, the age with the highest number of probabilities of success for

recruitment is 18 years. Henceforth, interest in the Spanish Armed Forces

dwindles and to this must be added the demographic brake. 36


At what speed has this aging occurred?

It took Spain 50 years to go from a population over 65 years of age from 5% in

1900 to 7% in 1950. In Argentina this process took only 14 years (5% in 1957

and 7% in 1971). 37


Causes of Argentine population aging


1. Decrease in fertility

    According to a study by the UADE´s  Institute of Social Sciences, in 2015

    Birth Rate in Argentina fell to an average of 2.11 children per mother. 

    This represents a  62 percent drop since 1978. The biggest drop was

    produced in the most developed social classes. In the  populations with less

    resources the figure remain  above average.


    The Replacement Rate is the minimum fertility rate that a population needs to

    maintain its demographic level in equality or growth. There are four zones in  

    Argentina below the Replacement Rate: the City of Buenos Aires (1.57), the

    province of Buenos Aires ,which concentrates the largest population

    of the country (1.97), provinces of Córdoba (1.80) and Santa Fe (1.90).


2. Age of pregnancy

    The group of women 25-29 years-old recorded the highest relative weight of

    fertility until the year 2000, but since 2005 the fertility group moved to 30-34

    years.Besides,the age chosen for the first  marriage increased five years

    since 2001.9


3. Number of children per mother

   In the Federal Capital, one of the most developed neighborhoods, like

   Recoleta, averages one child per mother, while the  Commune 8 (composed

   of Villa Lugano, Villa Soldati and Villa Riachuelo) averages 2.9.


4. Decrease in Gross Mortality Rates

    Life expectancy has been increasing since 1840 at a rate of two and a half

    years for each decade. In UK, the average mortality for people between 65

    and 74 years is 23 per thousand while in Argentina  is 24.6 per thousand.



 Main causes of death in Argentine older adults (1999-2010)-

Directorate of Statistics and Health Information  (DEIS)


                           Heart failure, complications and ill-defined heart diseases

                               Ischemic heart disease

                    Cerebrovascular diseases

                              Influenza and pneumonia


These four chronic non-communicable diseases caused  in 1999 almost 40

percent of deaths for the age of 65, and accounted for almost 30 percent in

2010. 62. In Argentina, the prevalence of high blood pressure (50-59

years old) is between 27.6 and 28.9 percent. but it increases to 65 percent in

those over 60 years of age. There is an interesting study that we could

extrapolate to our Malvinas War Veterans, according to which,

veterans of war presented, as they grew older, a greater risk of heart diseases. 68


5.Aging Index

The Aging Index allows us to observe the balance between young generations

(between 0-14) and older adults (65 or more).In 1970, the aging rate was 23.8

older adults for every 100 young people (with a higher proportion of women)

62.  Currently, the City of Buenos Aires has the highest proportion of older

adults (17.2%). 10. Thanks to medical and technological advances, a new

vital stage of people arised between 55 and 70 years old which has been called

the silver generation. 34


Consequences of population aging

1. Contraction of the labor force (proportion of population between 15 and 65


2. Decreased productivity with a population less inclined to incorporate

    new technologies needed.

3. A reduced productive force should provide for an increasingly large

   dependent group. 52

   Currently, there are 6,805,192 beneficiaries of the pension

   system. In Argentina, there are 1.7 active workers for every retiree or

   pensioner , while specialists advise that the ratio between contributors

   and liabilities should be between 3 and 4. 2

   80% receive a single benefit that is made up of 32% of people who made

   contributions and 48% of people benefited from moratoriums (who made no

   contributions).Besides, 20% have a double benefit, that is, people who

   simultaneously receive a retirement and a pension. 22


   Researchers from Harvard University found that tthe lack of insurance

  health, was linked to an excess of 45,000 annual deaths in the strip of

  patients 18 to 64 years old even after considering factors such as

  smoking, obesity, ethnicity, income and alcohol intake. 33

  Most health systems have gaps in accessibility, afordability or are simply

  overcrowded and understafed, particularly for remote, low income and more

  vulnerable populations.


Number of medicine doctors and nurses per 1000 inhabitants  57

                      Medicine doctors           Nurses                     Total

Argentina            3.96                            2.58                         6.54

USA                    2.59                          11.74                       14.33

UK                      2.81                            7.80                       10.61


4. Impact on unemployment:

Unemployment at the end of 2019 was 8.9%. There were 2,000,000

unemployed. Women under 30 years of age suffered the most .(18.9%). 8


5. Impact on poverty:

 In Argentina, a citizen with an income less than US $ 617 is considered poor

and indigent if its less than US $ 249. Veterans of War receive a national

pension that in March 2020 was about US $ 586.51. A controversial report by

María Laura Tramezzani (former director JP Morgan) states that 50 per cent  of

the Argentine population is poor, and in three years that figure would rise to 80

percent. 64


 6. Increase in welfare costs:

The costs derived from aging, at least in health, are incalculable. In the US, in

1998, of health expenditures, older people consumed a third of the

approximately $ 1,146 trillion required. These data acquire special relevance at

present for our Welfare Institute of the Armed Forces (IOSFA) ,born in 2013,

which currently has more than 600 thousand members and manages 20,000

Argentine million pesos annually.

The tendency of cutting military spending to pay for elder-care costs is

likely to repeat itself in the state that is ageing faster than any of the great

powers: China. 1,19. China's attempts to renege on promised benefits to

retirees led to large-scale protests and riots, including in the major cities of

Liaoyang and Daqing. The pressure from these protests was so great that the

authoritarian Chinese government promised to extend pension benefits to an

additional 50 million people (Haas 2007: 124)

(Discover Buenos Aires.Health Care Costs in Argentina. https: // discoverbuenosaires.com/ health-care-costs-argentina) 13


7. Social conflict:

The UK Ministry of Defence’s Joint Doctrine Publication 04, ( Understanding,

Chapter 2.) use the term conflict  in its widest sense to refer to disputes

between people at all levels, from the individual and domestic to the collective

and international. One of the objectives of understanding is precisely developing

empathy with another individual, group or community. (Understand to prevent:

The military contribution to the prevention of violent conflict-MCDC)

This is very important, as the coexistence of communities of high fertility and

younger average age, with low fertility and aging communities like Argentina, is

a cause of social conflict.

A 2019 study carried out by the University of San Andrés found that the main

problems for Argentine citizens were: inflation (54%), insecurity (40%),

unemployment (36%),  poverty (26%), corruption (24 %), politicians (21%), low

wages (20%), education (17%), Justice (17%), external debt (16%), drug

trafficking (12%), health (8%), access to own housing (3%), other (2%),

transportation (2%), the Police (1%), slums (1%)24,49,50,51,52


8.At the Armed Forces level:

Eventhou military, civilian personnel and service leadership have consistently

taken the view view that maintaining or improving quality is generally more

important tan sustaining numbers of personnel. 3,30, nevertheless the  

scarcity of the optimal military age population (ranges from 16-18 and 28-30

years) will certainly impact the Armed Forces human resources. The current

model of  professional volunteers will enter into stiff competition with the

business world. 36,59,61


Brig Amrit Kapur wrote at the Indian Defence Review (Ageing Defence

Forces: The Enemy Within) : The profession demands a younger

profile, whereas due to the narrow pyramid of promotional avenues, the age

profile in various command assignments continues to soar upwards. If we

continue in the same manner, we will end up very soon having units

commanded by Brigadiers. Instead of addressing the core issues, we try to

push the main problem under the carpet.29,55


The Japanese SDF was unable to hit recruitment quotas since 2014. Overall,

the military was only able to recruit about 77 percent of the 9,734 lowest-rank

enlisted personnel it had sought in the year ending in March. “Twenty years

from now, unless we can replace a considerable number of people with robots,

it’ll be hard to maintain the current level of war capability,” said Akihisa

Nagashima, a former parliamentary vice defense minister and conservative

independent lawmaker.58,65


On the other hand, regarding our ageing military there should be specific

government  strategies for fostering resilience, strengthening social

relationships and networks, promoting physical and mental health, and

designing interventions at specific points of transition in military life.


 9.At the level of the Malvinas War Veterans 12

  Argentina has 23,420 war veterans according to the MoD. Nearly 22,000  

  receive a pension from the government. About 10,000 of them belong to the

  Province of Buenos Aires. PTSD is a most important issue.

  Post Traumatic Stress of Late Appearance (LOSS) refers to the development

  of thoughts, reminders and emotional responses associated with the war

  experience that occur in the context of aging against losses such as

  retirement, the death of loved ones and health disorders. LOSS would be

  related to sub threshold levels of PTSD. 5,6,27. The percentage of older adults

  with subclinical levels of PTSD symptoms ranges from 7 to 15%.


 The prevalence of PTSD measured throughout life, between the veterans of

 war and former prisoners of war of WW2 and Korea (average age = 71 years)

 has been 53%, the current prevalence being 29 %. 12,27,63,66 Vieweg et al.

 found  many cases of overweight and obesity among male US veterans

 affected by PTSD relative to the general population. (J Natl Med Assoc. 2006

 April; 98 (4): 580–586.) Patients with chronic PTSD showed dyslipidemia and

 increased coronary heart disease. 17,28,31,33,44

 Adult war veterans showed greater somatic disorders (appetite, sleep and

memory), greater anxiety and drug abuse, while young war veterans presented

more depression and hostility. 52 .In vulnerable people, anger, stress,

depression or sadness may trigger an Acute Coronary Syndrome .The

symptoms of PTSD would contribute to the aggressive behaviors observed in

elderly sick and cognitively impaired patients. 7

Proposed Solutions

1. Increase the incorporation of women in the Armed Forces.

In 2017, women made up less than 17% of the total forces 25,46,54.. The

Argentine Navy and Air Force do not have any ranking or closed orientation to

female incorporation. The maximum degree reached by women of the

professional body in the Argentine Army is that of a Colonel.

In the US, in early 2018, women represented 20.3% in the Air Force, 11.8% in

the Army, 11.6% in the Navy, 8.7% in the Guard Coast and 5.6% in the Marine

Corps, one of the most demanding branches.


2. Activate the Military Reserves.

The personnel must be remunerated according to hierarchy and aptitude. Some

authors think that this possibility should be opened exclusively to those who

lack years to retire with assets. 16 All citizens must have some

category of reservists, from those with training, those who are trained and

capable of being enlisted, to those who have never set foot in a barracks.



3.Lighten the regulation on immigration policy.

 In the case of the Armed Forces, there are excellent works describing the  

causes and consequences of the recruitment of immigrants.14  

Spain contemplates this for immigrants from Latin America who, given their

language identity and  religion with the Spanish would have no problems of

cultural integration. UK incorporates into its Armed Forces. non-British nationals

from foreign countries (e.g: gurkhas). France enrolls in the Foreign Legion,         

foreigners between 17 and 40 years old regardless of nationality who approve

the selection process.The awarding of decorations is also another proof of the

 professionalism of foreigners. Of the millions of men and women who have

 served in the US Army only 3,405 have received the Medal of Honor, and of

 them 715 were  immigrants (20.9%).69


4. Promote the human capital of old- timers.

 We must bear in mind that 40% of world consumption corresponds to people 

over 65 years. 40% of adventure tourists are over 50 years old 34.48 .

 It is important to promote healthy habits among older adults by promoting their

 insertion in the educational system. Age discrimination on the other hand is




5.Increase prolife policies that promote and protect the family.

    Finland, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Hungary, Poland, France, Italy and   

    Muslim Asia have prolife policies 42. Some of the policies 

   observed have been the construction of quality nurseries in working  places ,

    lengthening of the maternity leave, laws on reduced working hours for   

    breastfeeding women .Poor women have more children than desired due to

    educational motives and difficult access to adequate family planning, while

    mothers from social middle sectors, more educated and labor-active, find

    difficulties in reconciling family and profesional  life.

    Late motherhood causes a greater social burden for Argentine women,

    who must duplicate their effort to care for their children and their elderly

    parents as well .47

The progressive increase in families with only one child will cause, in a

  democratic environmernt ,pressure on governments in order not to invest in

  soldiers who, in in most cases ,would be the only offspring for many of their

  voters. 36


6.Increase employment through government and business actions.

Although it is not the objective of this article to discuss economic politics we

 should say that in 2017, there were 21.3 million people who made up the

 population economically  active: approximately 6.5 million had formal salaried

 positions, 2.3 million registered independent jobs and 3.9 million were in the

 public sector. The industry contributed 1.25 million registered jobs that have

 higher wages than the average. 38,45


7.Robots 4


Robert Cone, the man in charge of the U.S. Army's Training and Doctrine

 Command, said in 2013 that machines like drones and robots could replace up

 to a quarter of troops in combat by 2030. The potential move would be made

 possible, according to Cone, by enhanced robot technology on the battlefield.

 Airmen and sailors will be replaced with “robots”; both autonomous systems and

 remotely operated. Soldiers and marines will be the last people replaced, if

 replaced they are.




Countries like Italy, Greece, Sweden, Japan and Spain face the problem of

 ageing very much like Argentina. Notwithstanding, Argentina has a foreign debt

 of U$S 323.177(88% of its GNP; the biggest in Latin America) and an 8%

 unemployment which makes things harder.48,60,64,67. In any case, actions

 should begin as soon as possible.



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