This was quite a common question when EML first started talking about the global phenomenon of longevity. In the western world the increase started earlier but has been slower while in Asia life expectancy has nearly doubled in less than a lifetime. Globally human life expectancy has increased 50% in the last 50 years.
What does it mean? Well it affects us all but in different ways.
If you are 60 or over – you are a pathfinder – a pioneer exploring a whole new stage of life. At 60 your parents were ‘nearing the end’ while you face the prospect of 30 or more years of potentially good health. In speaking to focus groups of octogenarians one common regret is not knowing at 60 that they had another 25 years ahead of them. ‘If I had known that I would have spent less time on the golf course and gone and done something more productive’.
30 to 60 – You are the sandwich generation – caught between parents who seem to be living forever and children who won’t leave home. Almost all your expectations of later life need to change. The good news is that you have time on your side. By learning from the Pathfinders it is possible to avoid many of the pitfalls they have experienced and instead make the most of these extra decades.
15 to 30 – You are the digital generation. Your prospects for later life are different again from the generations above and you have the ability to live your life differently. Knowing you will be around longer you can respect your body and look after it. Knowing there will be no gold plated pension you can enjoy life as you go. And with the prospect of a 70-year working life you know you can ‘re-invent’ yourself several times – taking career breaks to learn new skills.
The Commercial Opportunity – It is said that change brings opportunity – well living longer is a huge change and with it come massive opportunities. Businesses that understand these changes are best equipped to take advantage of the new and emerging market segments.
And that’s the challenge – living longer affects us all – but that impact is different for different groups. It is knowing about the changes, and taking time to think through their impact on you, that enables you to make the most of this amazing opportunity.