24 Nov The Longevity Economy
Yes, there really are economic benefits to an aging population. The Longevity Economy, a report prepared by Oxford Economics for the American Association of Retired Persons, has this to say: “The growing population over 50 represents both a transformative force by itself and a net asset – a fast-growing contingent of active, productive people who are working longer and taking the economy in new directions.” Canadians tend to show similar patterns.
Improved health results in a longer middle age, creating an extended period of workers’ most creative and productive years. This is a significant, often untapped resource.
There is growing interest in part-time jobs, working remotely, or mixing periods of work with periods of leisure, whether because people need the income, or for a sense of purpose and meaning. It is discouraging that many employers do not take advantage of the employment interests of the older population.
Seniorpreneurs is a term I recently heard which captures the fact that the proportion of older people starting a business is growing. Others launch new careers, often in public-interest fields such as government, social services, health services, not-for-profits, education, and the environment.
Not all older adults have the resources they need to lead healthy lives, but many of the over-50 population have more accumulated wealth than previous generations.
They spend less on clothing and food, more on recreation and education, and more on technology than younger people. They also purchase more cars, and more expensive cars, and contribute to the tax system.
They are an enormous source of charitable giving, and pass on considerable funds to their children and grandchildren. Such support may be for help with college loans and tuition, living at home rent free, helping to buy a car and car insurance, and co-signing a loan or lease. They also spend a great deal of money on toys and baby items.
A wealth of new products and new businesses are being created to respond to the needs of an aging population, and there is growing interest in business acquisitions and expansions to serve the over-50 population.
Products and services focus on telemedicine and remote devices, and anti-aging resources. Innovations that support older adults may also benefit children and younger adults, such as tools and technology that are easier to use, physically or cognitively.
It seems to me that ageist attitudes are what most hold back our society from appreciating and using the wealth of resources in older adults. Yes, many of us may become frail and more dependent on others as we age, but we should also be able to flourish and contribute to the economy and society for a longer period of we want or need to.
Check out the full Longevity Economy report if you are interested in more details.
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