Georgia and the World Newspaper Published a Fabricated Quote of Christine Lagarde
Verdict: MOSTLY FALSE
The Georgia and the World newspaper published an article entitled “Rising Life Expectancy is a Threat. We Have to Reduce the Population.” The article includes statements of Christine Lagarde, European Central Bank (ECB) President, and José Viñals, Director of the Monetary and Capital Markets Department of the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Ms Lagarde’s quote, “The elderly live too long. This is a threat for the world economy and we have to do something,” is fake. According to the ECB, she has never made such a statement. Ms Lagarde and Mr Viñals have not made any statements that the population has to be reduced.
On 10 March 2021, the Georgia and the World newspaper published an article entitled “Rising Life Expectancy is a Threat. We Have to Reduce the Population.” The article includes a photograph of Christine Lagarde, ECB President, with the following caption: “The elderly live too long. This is a threat for the world economy and we have to do something.” The author of the article also discusses the statements of José Viñals, Director of the Monetary and Capital Markets Department of the IMF. The aim of the article is to discredit the ECB and the IMF and portray them as if these institutions are aiming to reduce the population. Georgia and the World has also published a Russian version of this article which is identical to other articles promoted in a number of Russian media sources (link 1 and link 2).
According to Chequeado, the Spanish fact-checking platform, Christine Lagarde’s photograph with the fabricated quote was reposted through the social network nearly 300 times. The fake quote was used for different contexts at different times. In 2020, it was linked with the COVID-19 pandemic and Ms Lagarde was proclaimed as the inventor of the virus.
In fact, Christine Lagarde’s quote cannot be found in any of the open sources. According to another Spanish fact-checking platform, Maldita, the quote is fake. Maldita reached the press service of the ECB which confirmed that Ms Lagarde has never made a statement that “The elderly live too long. This is a threat for the world economy and we have to do something.”
Christine Lagarde is the former Director of the IMF. Supposedly, the fabricated quote is a distorted version of the IMF’s statements. In 2016, Ms Lagarde gave a speech on demographic changes and economic prosperity. She did mention that the “aging population” is a universal problem and different measures need to be taken to tackle the ensuing problems. However, the “aging population” denotes the demographic situation of society and not the problem with the elderly living longer.
An aging population means an increased proportion of people aged 65 years and above in the total population. On the one hand, this growth is stipulated by lower fertility rates and, on the other hand, by a higher life expectancy. The aging population is the result of better public health and an improvement in healthcare and social services. Most of the specialists, including Christine Lagarde herself, agree that without taking the needed socio-economic measures, the capacity of countries to provide social guarantees to their elderly become exhausted amid a population which is getting older. At the same time, the rise in the number of aging people causes a drainage of working-age individuals in the population which directly affects income tax revenues.
Georgia and the World came forward with a number of solutions for tackling the problems caused by the ageing population such as cutting benefits and raising retirement ages. The IMF also suggests the encouragement of the employability and the productivity of the elderly and pursuing a relevant fiscal policy.
Therefore, Georgia and the World’s claim that Christine Lagarde sees a threat in the elderly’s living longer is fake. The headline of the article, “Rising Life Expectancy is a Threat. We Have to Reduce the Population” is even more fake. There have never been any talks on reducing the population either from the IMF or from the ECB.
The statements of José Viñals, Director of the Monetary and Capital Markets Department of the International Monetary Fund, were made in 2012 at the Global Financial Stability Report conference. Mr Viñals did indeed talk about the ageing population and stated: “The root of the problem is that how long people live has been consistently underestimated in the past and although we would all agree that living longer is a good thing, it carries a financial risk.” Similar to Christine Lagarde, Mr Viñals also spoke about addressing the problems caused by the ageing population and stated that now is the time to worry about solving these problems. He did not say in this or in any other of his statements that the problem is precisely the higher life expectancy and that this is the reason that the population has to be reduced.
Therefore, the article published by Georgia and the World is mostly false. Some of the statements in the article are true, although the content together with the headline leave the impression that the ECB and the IMF are aiming to reduce the population. In addition, the article also contains Christine Lagarde’s fabricated quote which is intended to deliberately discredit the aforementioned institutions.
Information about the disinformation source can be found here.
This article was produced as part of Facebook’s Fact-checking Programme. Given the rating, Facebook may impose different restrictions – click here for full information. For information on issuing a correction or to dispute a rating, please see here.