Six longevity economy principles are revealed in WEF white paper

Lifespans have gotten longer around the world, financial opportunities for individuals to grow and preserve wealth had not kept pace. Source: Pixabay

Lifespans have gotten longer around the world, financial opportunities for individuals to grow and preserve wealth had not kept pace. Source: Pixabay

Published Jan 17, 2024


Six longevity economy principles were revealed in a World Economic Forum (WEF) white paper to improve outcomes for ageing societies

According to a new World Economic Forum white paper, Longevity Economy Principles: The Foundation for a Financially Resilient Future, released on Monday, “In 2020, 1 billion people were aged above 60; by 2050, this number is projected to have more than doubled to 2.1 billion.

“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 ageing.”

The Longevity Economy initiative is part of the Forum’s Centre for Financial and Monetary Systems.

More than 35 organisations had developed the Longevity Principles with a focus on how societies could ensure all individuals were 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.

Matthew Blake, the head of the Centre for Financial and Monetary Systems, WEF, said: “Having access to necessary financial resources is central to securing a healthy and resilient retirement.”

He said as lifespans had gotten longer around the world, financial opportunities for individuals to grow and preserve wealth had 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,” he added.

The six principles are:

– Ensure financial resilience across key life events

– Provide universal access to impartial financial education

– Prioritize healthy ageing as foundational for the longevity economy

– Evolve jobs and lifelong skill building for a multigenerational workforce

– Design systems and environments for social connection and purpose

– Intentionally address longevity inequalities, including across gender, race, and class.

The white paper said as the global population aged, this posed a challenge to the sustainability of social services and public benefits.

A 2023 S&P survey across 81 countries had warned that without adjustments to ageing-related fiscal policies, governments could face a substantial deficit increase, projecting an increase from 2.4% of gross domestic product in 2025 to 9.1% by 2060.

Additionally, a significant portion of the global population had limited access to personal or employer-sponsored savings outside of their public benefits, it found.

It also said providing access to financial education for all could spread a positive ripple effect throughout society, interrupting the cycle of intergenerational poverty by ensuring that all had access to the resources and tools to design their own financial destiny.

According to a study conducted by S&P’s Rating Services across 140 countries in collaboration with the Global Financial Literacy Excellence Centre, only 33% of people globally were deemed financially literate.

This lack of financial literacy had a significant impact, in retirement, on financial stress, as well as financial security.

Martine Ferland, the CEO of Mercer, said: “The longevity economy is here, and organisations keen to stay ahead of this demographic shift will need to transform to support a dynamic, multigenerational workforce.

“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,” Ferland said.

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

Roy Gori, the president and CEO of Manulife, said: “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.

“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.”