Greatest triumph of the age - Sustainability column
Sustainability column: AGINGThe greatest triumph of the ageWe have all seen the figures. By the middle of this century, older people – those overthe age of sixty – will account for more than a fifth of the world’s population. This, weare told, will have far-reaching consequences for the way we work, the way we save forretirement – ultimately, the way we live our lives.There are implications for healthcare, for technology and IT, for transport, for financialservices, for the treatment of diseases, like Alzheimer’s, that may be age-related. Evenfor the management and design of our cities. (The first-ever international conference onaging cities took place last September in Dublin). Last year, AEGON became a foundingThe risks of global aging are well known. But member of the Global Coalition onwhat about the opportunities? The fact is that, far Aging. The GCOA is an alliance offrom being a curse, global aging is one of the international companies aimed at raising awareness of the issuesgreat triumphs of our times. surrounding global aging – particularly among policymakers and the widerOpposite view public. As well as AEGON, members include Pfizer, Johnson & Johnson,Look at the same figures from the opposite view. Bank of America-Merrill Lynch,A child born in 1950 could expect to live, on Deloitte, Intel and Microsoft. One ofaverage, less than 50 years. Today, this child the GCOA’s key objectives is forwould live 70 years. Longer life expectancy is the society to embrace “an optimistic viewresult of better healthcare, better nutrition and of longevity and population aging”.significant advances in medicine. Generallyspeaking, older people are richer and more physically active than they have ever been.Consequently, attitudes towards retirement – in Europe, North America and Asia – areslowly changing. For many, retirement has become a time of much greater personalfreedom when they can take on new ventures, travel and volunteer overseas, or evenbegin a second career at home.It’s an idea that’s gaining ground in policy circles. This year, 2012, is officially theEuropean Year of Active Aging. And the World Health Organization recently published apolicy framework on the same issue.Biggest changePerhaps the biggest change, however, has been in the new, emerging economies,particularly China and India, where growth over recent years has lifted millions of olderpeople out of poverty. That’s important – currently, two thirds of older people live indeveloping countries and that figure will rise by 2050 to almost 80%.
These changes bring new opportunities – in the very areas where there are also risks:in long-term healthcare, in technology, in food and nutrition and, of course, in financialservices. In the years ahead, we will all have to get used to the idea of saving more forour retirement, saving longer, and managing our assets more carefully once we havestopped work.None of this is reason for complacency. The challenges of global aging are very real.Aging will bring profound economic and social change. But we shouldn’t lose sight ofthe bigger picture. At the end of the day, aging is a nice problem to have.--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------The views and opinions expressed in this document are solely those of theauthor and do not necessarily represent those of AEGON N.V. Thisdocument is for information purposes only and any reliance you place onsuch information is strictly at your own risk. AEGON N.V., its affiliates andthe author cannot be held responsible for the accuracy or reliability of thecontents of this document.