Key summit: Increased global Longevity is a “problem of success”.
Today, as part of Longevity Week London 2019, we attended the International Longevity Policy and Governance Summit at Kings College London – hosted by Tina Woods and Eric Kihlstrom of LongevityUK, and Dmitry Kaminskiy of Aging Analytics Agency. National government support is key to providing the optimum economic environment for Longevity innovation and investment. Experts from the UK, USA, Israel and Japan shared their insights.
A big question we’re asked regularly is, “Why should we have people live longer when we have so many demographic, financial and environmental challenges?” Conference attendees from across the aging and longevity ecosystem got the answer.
Kaminskiy shared data from Aging Analytics Agency’s report ‘Global Longevity Governance Landscape: 50 Countries Big Data Comparative Analysis of Longevity Progressiveness’ – an overview of 50 countries and their gap between life expectancy (lifespan) and healthy life expectancy (healthspan). The report was produced to help policy makers and businesses formulate practical country-specific policy recommendations on how to optimise their national health Longevity. We covered the agency’s recent USA-specific report last month.
The report notes that today’s increased global Longevity is a “problem of success”, in which the rise in global life expectancy seen in the last several decades has not been accompanied by a commensurate extension in health. As a result, increased global Longevity is producing a global aging demographic, an impending crisis frequently referred to as the “Silver Tsunami”. In order to float rather than sink, this requires altering the nature of aging entirely by compressing the period of financial and social inactivity in the final years of life.
The decrease in the labour force due to an increase in the elderly population and a decrease in the fertility rate is a trend that will translate into lower economic growth. Long-term problems in the developed world, caused by an increase in the age dependency ratio, could be alleviated by increasing the labour force participation of the elderly.
Japan is the number one aging society, and Mr Otani Soshi Deputy, Director of the Healthcare Industries Division, Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, Japan commented, “We need to redesign the system. If we allowed citizens to work an extra 10 years between the ages of 65 and 75 we could rebalance the social security system to what it was 15 years ago.”
Julia Randell-Khan, of the Stanford Center on Longevity, presented on her organisation’s work in developing The New Map of Life. The goal of the initiative is to envision, and begin to build, a society that supports people to live satisfying, engaged and financially secure lives for 100 years.
Randell-Khan commented, “We don’t see long life being a problem, but we have economic systems that are based on life being half as long. This is why we have created this five-year initiative around redesigning for an extra 30 years of life. People need the answers to questions like, ‘How am I going to afford to retire and how am I going to survive dementia?’ The multi-stage lives that we are now all living means that we need a sense of belonging, sense and worth.”
Mike Mansfield, Program Director at Aegon’s Center for Longevity and Retirement, shared the results of recent research that his organisation conducted into peoples’ attitudes on retirement and Longevity, commenting, “Only a third of American workers felt they were very, or extremely comfortable, that they could afford to retire comfortably. Reforms are urgently needed and we need to empower people to take control of their financial futures.”
Mansfield went on to identify the five key points of guidance to help people prepare for their own Longevity:
- Start saving early and save habitually for retirement: become a ‘habitual saver’;
- Write down a retirement strategy to formalise your plans and plan for retirement;
- Have a back-up plan because some people leave the workforce when they aren’t financially ready to do so;
- Adopt a healthy lifestyle as this is as important as a financial back-up plan so that you can phase out of work;
- Become financially literate as it’s very important for people to understand their finances.
Wise words for anyone contemplating the 100 year life.
Longevity Week London 2019 continues and we’ll be reporting from the various conferences during this week. Stay tuned.