Industry leaders support new longevity economy principles to improve outcomes for aging societies

Seismic demographic transformation must be supported to ensure economies and societies remain resilient and sustainable.

In 2020, 1 billion people were aged above 60; by 2050, this number is projected to have more than doubled to 2.1 billion, the so-called silver tsunami [1]. And while lives are lasting longer, savings are not necessarily keeping pace, with a real risk for many that they could outlive their retirement pot by between eight and almost 20 years [2].

Now a new World Economic Forum white paper released today, Longevity Economy Principles: The Foundation for a Financially Resilient Future, says that for individuals to thrive in their longer lives, it is essential for businesses, governments, civil society and individuals to intentionally address the demographic and financial realities of aging.

Longevity.Technology: To support this transformation, the World Economic Forum’s Longevity Economy initiative, which is is part of the Forum’s Centre for Financial and Monetary Systems, has worked in close collaboration with Mercer and over 35 organizations representing business, government, and civil society, to establish six longevity principles focused on how societies can ensure all individuals are able to meet their financial needs, enjoy a healthy life, access employment and learning opportunities, and live a life filled with purpose at all stages of life.

“Having access to necessary financial resources is central to securing a healthy and resilient retirement,” says Matthew Blake, Head of the Centre for Financial and Monetary Systems, World Economic Forum.

“As lifespans have gotten longer around the world, financial opportunities for individuals to grow and preserve wealth have not kept pace. Financial institutions must work with governments and civil society to ensure adequate savings, investment and other wealth building opportunities are available to all individuals to support our changing demographic reality.”

The six principles are:

  1. Ensure financial resilience across key life events
  2. Provide universal access to impartial financial education
  3. Prioritize healthy ageing as foundational for the longevity economy
  4. Evolve jobs and lifelong skill building for a multigenerational workforce
  5. Design systems and environments for social connection and purpose
  6. Intentionally address longevity inequalities, including across gender, race, and class

Many partners in the initiative, including Mercer, Manulife, AXA, Bank of America, Zurich, BlackRock, National Coalition on Aging, Stanford Center on Longevity, MIT AgeLab, Global Coalition on Aging and the European Commission, have committed to taking concrete actions in alignment with these principles. These actions span wide range of industries, including innovating in investment vehicle design, broadening access to financial education, developing more age-inclusive employee value propositions, developing a demography toolbox, and using the principles as a framework to inform service delivery and advocacy.

“The longevity economy is here, and organizations keen to stay ahead of this demographic shift will need to transform to support a dynamic, multigenerational workforce,” said Martine Ferland, CEO of Mercer. “Unlocking the potential of this demographic transformation is an integral way employers can support a healthier, more productive and vibrant future for our economies and societies.”

The principles offer a holistic view of the longevity economy with a focus on financial resilience, retirement equity and healthy aging.

“We know people are living longer – but not healthier – lives. And we acknowledge the important role governments and the private sector play in addressing the systems that can drive positive outcomes for societal change, human health and well-being and quality of life indicators,” said Roy Gori, President & CEO of Manulife.

“We’re proud to support the World Economic Forum’s Longevity Economy Principles outlining ways companies like ours can contribute to scaled solutions, innovation, and new ways of operating to contribute to a more sustainable future. Health and well-being must be a global priority, and we are committed to doing our part to help our customers live longer, healthier, and better lives.”

[1] https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/ageing-and-health
[2] https://www.weforum.org/press/2019/06/retirees-worldwide-will-outlive-their-savings-by-a-decade-and-women-will-fare-worse/