The majority of the global population can expect to live beyond the age of 60 for the first time in human history. This trend of increasing longevity in conjunction with declining global birth rates will continue for the foreseeable future. Although long considered to be a societal and economic burden, greater longevity is starting to be recognized as offering opportunities to expand intergenerational learning and knowledge transfer, to increase economic vitality, and to achieve other community and individual benefits. Indicators of the substantial value of these dividends can be seen in AARP’s 2019 Longevity Economy® Outlook, and in the article titled “The economic value of targeting aging” in the July 2021 issue of the research journal Nature Aging.
Decades of expanded access to public education and colleges has resulted in the most skilled population of older adults in history. As an example, the “Baby Boom” generation in the U.S. was coming of age during the emergence of wide-spread digital computing, as the emphasis on STEM education was increasing, and as access to skilled trades and white-collar positions was expanding. The higher level of education and training for this and coming generations of older adults—in combination with their inclinations to learn and be active—offers opportunities for people to acquire and share knowledge as well as to be economically productive for more years. But additional years of productivity are not synonymous with additional longevity; additional healthy years are essential.
With a focus on solutions for healthy aging and equitable access, public and private investments are increasing for innovations that mitigate adverse Social Determinants of Health and reduce health disparities across different demographic groups. Government agencies, for-profit companies, foundations, and other entities are working with initiatives like the Healthy Longevity Global Grand Challenge to incentivize the development of innovations for healthy aging. For-profits, foundations and governments are investing to eliminate digital divides as technology is becoming central to health, wellness, and all aspects of daily life. These efforts and many more are tangible reasons to be excited about possibilities to realize high value dividends from longevity.