Das lange Leben lernen
Learning to live long
Zeitschrift für Erziehungswissenschaft, 12:3, 383–407 (2009)
In the industrialized world the probability of people reaching higher ages has risen substantially over the past decade. Falling birth and mortality rates have led to changes in the population structure. In Germany, the population will be aging rapidly over the next (decades), with the new demographic situation necessitating adjustment and re-orientation on the individual and socio-political level. We argue that the adjustment strategies should focus on the promotion of education across all phases of life and population groups. This applies to the issue of health, for example, since future strains on the social welfare system and macroeconomic performance are affected, among other factors, by the state of health of the growing number of elderly people. Education boosts health-promoting behavior, thus increasing the chances of an individual enjoying a long, active life. Besides, educational training and professional development are gaining importance owing to demographic change as the changes in the population structure will require individuals to work longer over their working lives and lead to a more even distribution of gainful employment across the life course. Education is a worthwhile investment, in particular as the prospects for long life are rising and because it enables people to lead their lives as responsible agents, to take charge of their personal individual and professional development, and to assure their livelihood.