Has it really come to an end….?
You have to go back in history a long way to find a time when the average life expectancy of one generation was less than the preceding one – maybe during the Black Death or possibly the Potato Famine. Whenever it was it is almost certain that there was a short term localised explanation.
Now it has happened again, the newspapers are reporting that statisticians are predicting a reversal in the relentless increase in UK life expectancy. Before too many policies are changed I suggest we look for a short-term reason and it doesn’t take long to find one.
The current Sandwich Generation (those aged 30 – 60) are trapped between aging parents needing increasing levels of support while holding on to the family assets and Digital Children who struggle to leave home (1 in 10 adults still living with their parents are aged 30+). Family pressures are compounded by relentless change rendering skills obsolete, poor diet, lack of exercise and the receding prospect of retirement. This is the first generation in history who expect to be worse off than their parents.
Given all that it is not surprising that their average life expectancy may decline. However I suggest this is an exception. According to UN stats over the last 50 years average global life expectancy has increased by over 50% – a trend that is predicted to continue for some time. Without medical intervention there will be an end to this growth, medical experts predict that the human body has a theoretical average life expectancy of around 90 so, as a country we still have some way to go. One very privileged part of the world, Monaco, has already got there – but they are an exception.
So my prediction is that, if it happens at all in the UK then it is a blip, brought about by the rapid pace of change. I would not advise anyone from the Digital generation to bank on dying early!