Reimagining the longevity economy

Our ageing society should be viewed as an opportunity which will require the world of work to be reimagined.

Mixed race woman working from her home office.


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Our ageing society should be seen as an opportunity rather than a problem, according to a new book, which calls for us to use our social ingenuity to question the status quo, reimagine our social institutions  and create new ways of living and working.

With traditional jobs and long-term relationships with employers in danger of disappearing, it is vital that we look to reinvent careers in midlife and reshape corporate policies to support and enable people to work later in life, says the book The New Long Life by Andrew J Scott and Lynda Gratton.

It talks about the need for multigenerational working, with young and old equitably sharing the burdens and opportunities of longer lives, outlining how technological change will make us focus more on what makes us human – our need to connect with each other.

The book highlights how people age in different ways, meaning some can carry on working way past retirement, and the importance of not just older people combating ageism but everyone since it is in all our interests to look out for our future selves.

The longevity economy

The second half of the book focuses on how employers, education and government can promote the changes needed to create “a longevity economy”.

It calls on the Government to create good jobs and support small-scale entrepreneurs as well as corporates rather than viewing automation as being about stemming job destruction.

It also recommends the creation of social support systems that help people to transition between different periods of their lives and target those most in need as well as the provision of learning and training to help people who are unemployed get the skills needed for the new jobs that are coming on stream.

Other recommendations include a focus on healthy ageing, age inclusive policies and the provision of real-time job information.

The book advises that individuals will need to act pre-emptively, be forward-looking and keep their options open. It is vital, it says, that people plan ahead about their future options and prepare for the life transitions to come.

The authors state: “We acknowledge that change will not be easy and the widening gap between technological and social ingenuity brings with it undoubted risks. However, we are being presented with extraordinary opportunities to live for longer and in ways that enable greater freedom and give more options. Being faced with new choices can be unsettling. But if we are able individually and socially to make wise choices, then we have the possibility of healthier, longer and more fulfilled lives.”

*The New Long Life by Andrew J Scott and Lynda Gratton is published by Bloomsbury, price £20.

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