Longevity by Design

By Dominic Lee

Coinciding with the release of the World Report on Ageing and Health, October 1 marks the 25th annual International Day of Older Persons as designated by the United Nations (UN). This year’s theme is “60+ counts!” with a focus on sustainable aging in urban environments.

It is well publicized that the world’s population is aging. Current life expectancy is 70 years, and the number of people over 60 is expected to double from 901 million to over 2.1 billion by 2050. Of these, 900 million are estimated to reside in urban areas, (that’s 60% of all people). This makes it all the more essential that policy makers and city planners keep the growing senior urban populations in mind when developing public spaces, transportation options, and accessible and affordable housing. A well-planned city is not only more desirable to live in, but provides greater opportunities for employment and growth. These issues, under the theme “longevity by design”, are a topic of focus for the World Economic Forum Global Agenda Council on Ageing.

The aging of the world’s population provides significant challenges to governments, particularly around pensions and healthcare. Indeed, many nations have taken the step of increasing their retirement age. However, it also provides great opportunities for economic success as identified by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), through the “silver economy”.

By augmenting the opportunities provided to our seniors and promoting healthy aging, we can realize new opportunities for greater financial savings, reduced burden on government systems, and significant additions to gross national products (GDP). Studies have shown that an increase of workers over 65 by 2.6% in the United Kingdom will result in GDP growth of 6%, while an increase of five years to the working life in Japan will add 10% to their GDP.

Not only are seniors working longer, but also they are desirous of continuing to work. In the US for example, the 60+ demographic is one of the only segments improving its labor force participation rate. The greying population will require much and provide numerous opportunities for innovation, and novel ideas such as intergenerational retirement homes in the Netherlands and preschools in nursing homes in the US are just some of the new trends.

These changes reinforce what we know and what will be recognized around the world today: 60+ counts!


Thumbnail image credit: Good News Network

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