Editor’s note: Matt Carmichael is the SVP, head of Ipsos Trends and Foresight Lab headquartered in Paris. 

In our Aging issue of What the Future magazine, we identify five tensions that will have an impact as they change over time – or if they don’t change. What do we mean by that? When we think about the future, one lens we like to use is ideological tensions. Humans are at the center of all of our work at Ipsos and foresight is no different. Macro forces drive change, to be sure. But our opinions, attitudes, behaviors and values will impact how we react to that change and shape the degree of the change itself in people, markets and society.

One reason thinking through these tensions today is that we can use force-choice questions to take the temperature of the public today and set a baseline that can be measured over time. Here’s where we stand currently on key tensions in the aging space and some expert opinions on what that means for the future.

The first generation to rely mostly on investment income (rather than a defined pension) is retiring. The younger generations don’t number enough to cover current Social Security payments and only 37% of younger Americans think there will be money left in the system when they retire. They feel the tension between fear of running out of money and fear of losing independence. Today’s Americans, 42% of whom don’t have any money left after paying bills, are uncertain about their financial tomorrow. Or worse yet, they are certain about a hopeless outcome. What happens if more people think the safety net will be pulled out from under them? Or what happens if confidence grows?

Cosmetics have been used by humans for millennia for a wide variety of reasons, including to disguise aging or smooth wrinkles. More recently, surgery and injectables have taken the degree to which we can control our appearance even further. What’s on the horizon and how does that c...