A grayer, quieter future
In a world where the elderly outnumbers the new born many aspects of living will be different. Serene Environments may grow more attractive. Longevity may be the counterweight to materialism as older people in general don’t desire acquisitions as much as the younger ones. Should people live longer the nuclear family might be seen as less central. Crime rates might come down as people in their late teens to late 20s are more likely to commit crimes than people of other ages. Violence should also come down.
Should large numbers of people enjoy longer lives in decent health, the overall well-being of the human family may rise substantially. The late phases of life may be seen as a positive experience of culmination and contentment.
Society will have more people over the age of 70 and all the accumulated wisdom they bring. As Linda Fried, Dean of Public Health at Columbia University, said, “Imagine what a long life spent in good health will unlock – it unlocks the opportunity to work, to fulfil individual goals and to make an impact as an older adult.”
Over long lives, strong, positive, enduring relationships are crucial, as is the framework of the family. In a world of increasing individualism, it’s important to remember the value of interdependencies. When four or even five generations are alive together, that creates a wonderful opportunity for intergenerational collaboration and cohesion.
Encouraging the over 60s to work
Healthy longevity means retiring differently. In a world of centurions, working into your 80s could be the norm.
Jo Ann Jenkins the CEO of non-profit social welfare organization with 38 million members in the USA, AARP, reported that many of these older people want to work longer and want to question what it means to age. She said “70 is not the new 50”- but it is completely different in terms of experience, wisdom and insight.
Supporting long working lives has important implications e.g. supporting lifelong learning through re-training; a better understanding of the labour market and of what jobs are likely to be available – today and tomorrow.
David Agus said studies show that every additional year you stay at work past the age of 60, your chances of getting Alzheimer’s reduces by 3%. More-over cross-age working groups have many benefits in respect of productivity and creativity in corporations.
Whose responsibility is the challenges of longevity?
At Davos 2017 Babatunde Osotimehin suggests that our health is currently driven by commerce and business. But he believes it should be driven by the individual. Lin Kobayashi, Head of the International School of Asia agrees. He suggests individuals should set an agenda to take action (even in the face of discomfort) and find a way of living that brings passion and purpose.
Japanese Yasuhiro Sato, President and CEO of the Mizuho Financial Group described how his company launched a project which gives employees an opportunity to measure their exercise and be rewarded when they increase their exercise rate.
Society, governments and corporations all need to find innovative solutions. Governments need to address the pension crisis and anxieties around a fast evolving labour market. Corporations must drop age stereotypes and enables people to contribute at any life stage. Civil society need to support stronger families, neighbourhoods and communities.
Prof. Andrew Scott thinks that US private pensions is a bigger problem than US government debt. Old Mutual Savings & Investment Monitor 2017 reports that 40% of South Africans have neither pension / provident nor RA savings; 37% of South Africans indicated that their children should look after them when they are old; 33% expect of government to take care of them should they be unable to do so. People prefer a bigger take home salary than a higher contribution to their savings or retirement funds.
The pension industry and the landscape of the financial industry need transformation. Legislation has been passed in the UK, Australia and South Africa regulating retirement advisers offering financial planning advice to always act in the best interests of their client. These regulations increase costs, making it harder for the middle class to get good advice. With increased lifespan many people haven’t saved enough for retirement. In response they are working longer, but are also searching for better investment returns. In a period of historically low interest rates, management charges become all the more noticeable.
A 100-year life requires an unsustainable 50- to 60-year career in order to finance a pension. Different individuals will make different choices at different times about when they want to retire, when they focus on making money versus a better work-life balance. Some individuals will still be working at age 70 – some won’t. Some will be interested in mortgages and risky investments while others will be interested in safe investments and income. This diversity will require much more complicated financial advice and less standardization. When everyone has the same needs, then the same product can be used. Greater diversity and greater needs calls for greater customization and a focus on customer needs.
Further, if professional financial planners cannot recoup fees from the products they sell, but charge for professional advice, it’s likely only the higher income individuals will pay for advice. Others will find themselves without advice and faced with simple standardized products.
The Telegraph: ‘Humans unlikely to ever live longer than 125 years, scientists claim’ by Sarah Knapton, Science editor – October 5, 2016
What happens if we all live to 100? By Andrew Scott – September 3, 2016
Andrew Scott is a Professor of Economics at London Business School and the author, with Professor Lynda Gratton, of “The 100 Year Life — Living and Working in an Age of Longevity” (Bloomsbury Press, 2016).