WORK of the Future
Part 6: Extended Longevity
In 1900, the average person's life expectancy was 47. For those being born today in the US and beyond, living beyond 100 will be commonplace. As our lifespans double, the way we perceive work and life goals in relation to extended longevity needs a critical reevaluation.
Millennials faced criticism for postponing significant life milestones. Many lived with their parents longer, married later, acquired their first homes after prolonged savings, and delayed having children. According to Brookings, it's only after establishing a foundation of home, family, and partner that millennials could contemplate setting themselves up for retirement.
With life expectancy exceeding 90, millennials are poised to become the first generation spending a third of their lives as what's colloquially referred to as "old people". Given this extended lifespan, millennials may need to consider working indefinitely to sustain their retirement savings.
While some over-50 individuals currently experience ageism in the workforce, there's a prevailing perception that they are less technically adept, leading to their roles being replaced by younger, more tech-savvy, and cost-effective workers.
If society continues deeming individuals less suited for the workforce as they age, it could lead to a significant problem and a substantial Social Security Debt.
We're already witnessing remarkable skills among younger generations, who demonstrate independence online, engage globally, conduct transactions, learn on platforms like YouTube, and access vast information. The evolving dynamics, where kids mature early and adults remain in the workforce for extended periods, necessitate a fundamental rethink of our societal norms.
Europe is expected to be most affected by this aging population crisis, with an average population age of 47 by 2050, and 75% of the population being over 60. In contrast, African countries will have a younger population, averaging 27. Addressing this impending crisis may necessitate a smoother pathway for immigration to assist Europe and other regions.
Stanford University has a lab exploring longevity and has developed a 'map of life'. With people living beyond 100, they propose reevaluating the rush to meet milestones, urging us to extend the quality of life for those aged 60 and above.
Rather than viewing the 60+ period as a sunset, it should be considered invaluable for continued contributions, not just retirement.
As we envision life in 2050 and shape our future, the significant role of extended lifespans cannot be ignored. Prioritizing physical and mental well-being, financial stability, and maximizing the potential of the 60+ yo should be designed as a thoughtful consideration, rather than an afterthought.