With longer lifespans driven by advances in medicine and technology, the longevity economy has emerged in most countries. On aggregate, this economy is now considered the third largest economy in the world behind the US and China. The longevity economy is primarily driven by the 50 years and older in societies.
This economy is characterized by a system of organizations and institutions that are geared towards the production and distribution of goods and services for the older generation in the community. It is driven by the habits, needs and lifestyles that result from the elongated lifespan of men and women.
The size of the longevity economy on its own bears a factor of far greater magnitude than just a collection of age-specific workers, consumers and retirees; it is larger than any other country’s economy except those of the United States and China.
Studies show that middle age is now being extended to age 71. 65 to 69 year olds now hold part time or full time jobs as a result of better health. Rather than being a burden to society, the 50plus are upending the traditional expectations of aging through active living, spending and innovation.
A survey conducted by Merrill Lynch in 2013 found that many in the age group fueling the longevity economy are not ready to embrace retirement and are looking to start businesses driven by passions, interest or hobbies in areas such as education, the environment, health, government, social services or not for profit.
The longevity economy is refuting the conventional wisdom that consumers over 50 spend less, in fact, they spend more than any other age group and will increasingly challenge businesses to win their attention. In the United States, people over 50 outspend the average consumer across most categories.
A recent report by the Media Technology Monitors found that an average of 70 percent of all Boomers own a smartphone and are likely to own a console video game, PlayStation or Xbox. They are also reshaping the travel industry, as they dominate the pleasure travel market and the health industry into the next decade.
In many parts of the developing world especially Nigeria, where approximately 90% of a large population of 180 million are below 55 years old and almost a third between 24 and 54; the prospects for a sustained growth in the longevity economy are huge. This is why public and private sector operators in these economies must pay more attention and develop business strategies and policies that will put them in good stead to maximize the opportunities that an ageing population will bring.
The longevity economy is without borders transcending countries and continents, propelled by technology, innovation and characterized by longevity.