The increasing claims come from the aging of the population, while the slowing growth of available resources comes from a slowdown of economic expansion over the last generation. A complex mix of factors, varying by country, has slowed growth, and the slowdown has been exacerbated everywhere by the worst financial crisis and global recession in 70 years.
The combination has left Europe and the United States with frustrated populations that still have more sacrifices ahead. “These are very difficult moral issues,” said Benjamin Friedman, an economic historian at Harvard. “We are really talking about the level at which we support the elderly retired population.”