There is a subhead, “Legacy of the void” in the Economics magazine (April 26 201f) article titled, “Demography, growth and inequality: Age Invaders” which deals with the influence and future prospect of rapidly aging population, particularly in developed countries.

The caption, “Legacy of the void” is preceded and followed by the following passages:

“In most of the rich world the workforce looks likely to shrink even if skilled oldies stay employed.

A smaller workforce need not dampen growth, though, if productivity surges. This is not something would expect to come about as a result of an ageing population. Plenty of studies show that most physical and many cognitive capacities decline with age.— A new analysis by Canadian academics suggest that raw brainpower peaks at 24. And ageing society may ossify." http://www.economist.com/news/briefing/21601248-generation-old-people-about-change-global-economy-they-will-not-all-do-so

I suspect if it (Legacy of the Void) is a play on words with the title of the third version of computer game, “Star Craft II,” but don’t understand what the author meant by incorporating this phrase?

What does “Legacy of the void” mean in the context of the globally aging society, and how can I rephrase it in a short phrase?

  • @ Xavier Hernández Balcázar. None of them is what? Dec 14, 2014 at 3:30
  • "Plenty of studies show that most physical and many cognitive capacities decline with age." Does this seriously require research?
    – 1252748
    Dec 15, 2014 at 1:07
  • Just out of curiosity - is "tsunami" used metaphorically in Japanese?
    – Golden Cuy
    Feb 26, 2015 at 7:06
  • 1
    @Andrew Grimm. Yes "tsunami" is used metaphoricall for the things that massively emerge or arrive. e.g. Every sight-seeing site in Japan is innundated by the tsunami of Chinese tourists during the lunar new year season. Feb 26, 2015 at 9:27

2 Answers 2


Oishi-san, I honestly think this was an attempt to shoehorn a play on words into the article, whether by the writer or an editor. This is one of the problems with journalism: those people just can't resist the clever twist—even in as sober-sided a publication as The Economist.


The nearest explanation I can give to why "legacy" and why "void" is that 1) a legacy is something you get from someone older (sometimes much older) and "void" is either a missing element (such as a person being out of the workforce) or the Great Beyond (i.e., Death). Either way it's still a head-scratcher.

  • Robusto-san. I understood this (Legacy of the void) is a forced application of the words. But could you elaborate a bit more about what the author really mean by this phrase? I cannot get the idea. Perhaps only the author may know. Dec 15, 2014 at 0:12
  • @YoichiOishi: Please see my edit. I hope it helps.
    – Robusto
    Dec 15, 2014 at 2:33

Old people (generally) give inheritances, or legacies, to younger people. But here, the idea is that older people are losing their skills and abilities, so that their "legacy" for younger people is likely to be a "void," (nothing).

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