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By 1993 industrialized countries throughout the world were facing a common and growing problem--how to cope with the financial problems created by a growing proportion of elderly in their populations. Governments could no longer afford the generous welfare systems built up during the 1960s and 1970s, and in most developed countries pensions for the elderly accounted for the largest share of benefits. The problem was being compounded by the fact that workforces relative to the retired population were shrinking. This meant that there were fewer employers and employees to contribute to the national welfare systems on which increasing numbers depended for their financial livelihood.