Dry Commentary on the Collision of Increasing Lifespan and Myopic Economic Regulation

Enforced retirement is a great iniquity, in those countries where it exists. This is true of any attempt by the powers that be to thrust their idea of how a life should be lived onto tens of millions of people, all capable of making their own choices. Progress in medicine has for decades created longer, healthy lives, a slow upward trend that will accelerate now that the research community is earnestly attempting to treat the causes of aging. Those parts of the state concerned with ordering society, work, and finance at scale move far less rapidly. Much of the ink spilled on the topics of demographic aging, retirement, pensions, and economic consequences is a witness to the collision between (a) the reality of progress, the attempt to build a better world, and (b) the static vision of central planners who have no such beneficial goal in mind.

Although there is much debate about the age of retirement, already retirement itself is a decreasingly shared key labour market transition whereby work comes to a sudden stop at a specific age. As people work longer, the age at which they stop work varies, unretiring (ie, returning to the labour force after retirement) becomes increasingly common, people switch to part-time rather than full-time work, or engage in caring or broader social activities. As a result, older workers are characterised by increased diversity. This variety applies not only to employment, but also to health, education, and a broad range of socioeconomic factors. As a consequence, chronological age plays a declining role in defining a common set of problems among older workers; labour market policies need to focus less on age and more on worker characteristics, as is already the case for younger groups.

A focus on retirement age distracts from the importance of maintaining employment from age 50 years or older. In the UK, labour force participation is 85% for people aged 50-54 years, but falls to 58% at age 60-64 years and to 23% at age 65-69 years. Withdrawal from the labour market starts well before state pension age. If a longevity economy is to be achieved, supporting employment among people aged 50 years or older will be key.

Although improving the health and education of older workers will boost their productivity, this will count for little if employers believe that older workers are not productive. Evidence about the productivity of older workers is varied and often ambiguous, and varies substantially between sectors. Put simply, age does not seem to be as important a determinant of productivity as employers assume. This corporate ageism is a problem because it makes older workers more likely to lose their jobs and less likely to be hired than their younger counterparts, which contributes to the decline in employment before retirement age. In the face of such corporate ageism, there is a growing trend of older workers moving into the contingent economy (eg, part-time, gig economy, or contract work) and entrepreneurship. In the UK, over 40% of working people aged 65 years or older are self-employed, which is much higher than for any other age group.

Supporting a longevity economy will require legislation to tackle age discrimination, but social shifts and economic incentives will also be important. For instance, social perceptions about the productivity of older workers will change in response to new cohorts of older workers who have more education and better health than in previous waves. Also, shrinking populations will result in fewer younger workers, which will persuade some employers to be increasingly interested in older workers. Similarly, an ageing consumer base and the ability of technology and robotics to sustain people's productivity will increase the appeal of older workers.

Link: https://doi.org/10.1016/S2666-7568(21)00250-6


A bit of an Ayn Randian rant, unfortunately.
The most powerful and productive value in society is personal choice, and by extension, individualism in all matters of work, play, and rest -- at least where ambition and self-interested work ethic dominate in what could arguably be called the most civilized regions.
Will a possible future society with a 150-300+ year old lifespan average choose to become dynamic and aggressive in all things academic, industrious, and creative? With multiple PhDs, patents, widely varying careers, extensive family relationships, diverse and challenging adventures, etc., possible for all to participate and share? -or- be a system of the idle and hedonistic - working/ contributing only enough to maintain a minimally acceptable lifestyle -with vast periods of sabbatical/ retirement/ debauchery until austerity beckons those back to toil over the decades and generations? Very likely idleness, even in rich countries today: as various polling indicates a dominating populace with limited ambition, career goals, communal aspirations, and knowledge-expanding objectives.

I concur. People, in general, today, are greedy, lazy, and stupid - but not evil. Simply self-interested and obsessed with societal rank/ stature. This is less prevalent in richer countries with a strong private sector and a sense of individual goal. However, towards a richer world replete with abundance and opportunity on the horizon, people will seek to 'get more out of life'. This is where anti-aging will most appeal. Combined with commercial availability of a wide range of treatments and interventions, those will seek as much 'continuance' of their current 'individualistic' life as they see fit -- similar to one's ambition in exercise and career -- matching realistically, the daily investment against the future rewards. But not now. Now, longevity ambitions are limited to those few living the 'beautiful life' - a serendipitous opportunity of advantage, timing, and well-matched personal goals -- decried as elitist and privileged by many; but truly the only template of life for an abundant and motivated society going forward.

So, how to promote a life-loving abundance and self-prolongation of personal ambition, and by extension, a greater communal success? emphasizing the continuation of one's satisfying life, be it: career, family/community, or general charity. Live longer, healthily. Seek collaboration with your health provider and commercial anti-aging therapy vendor. Seek not overthrowing of a bureaucracy beholden to slothful disease reaction and burdensome regulation - for that is turning a freighter with a liferaft. Be the dynamic entity who knows the anti-aging consumer, knows the anti-aging researcher, knows the anti-ageing investor, knows the regulatory climate of choice and chance. And this may not be the US, UK, or Australia/Canada - this may be southeast Asia, eastern Europe, and/or less free States.

Posted by: Jer at December 23rd, 2021 6:28 PM

The duality of the economy is production and consumption. Its ok if people have a lot of money and mainly just want to be consumers. That gives more opportunity for people who want to be creators.

Posted by: aa3 at December 28th, 2021 1:18 AM
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