Underlying much of EML’s work is the astonishing fact that global human life expectancy has increased by 50% in just 50 years. Today we share the world with five generations – each with a different perspective on the meaning of later life.
Today’s octogenarians are the Surprised generation. Growing up between the wars they didn’t expect to live much past 65 and so are surprised to find themselves alive and well in their 80s. Today many of speak of a lost opportunity – they have spent a quarter of their life expecting to die.
Next are the Baby boomers – who have changed the world at every stage of life and are currently reinventing retirement. They are the Peter Pan generation – they behave as if they will live forever!
Generation X are the Sandwich generation – caught between parents who believe they will live forever and children who won’t leave home. They are seeing their prospects of retirement rapidly recede into the future. They are the first generation in history to be worse off than their parents.
Generation Y are the first to face our new reality. As they start work in their 20s Generation Rent already know that they are likely to have a 70 year working life. They will not enjoy the benefits of job security, inflated property values or gold plated pensions. Already know they will need to adapt and change throughout their working life and reinvent themselves to remain relevant.
Finally today’s young will be the first truly Digital generation. They think and act in a completely different way to their elders. According to UN researchers, by the year 2100 average life expectancy in the UK will be 91. For them 65 will still be a milestone – but not marking retirement, just the halfway point of their work lives!