How American society is changing with increasing life expectancy
What will a society look like in which the average life expectancy of 100 years and the number of people older than 65 exceeds the number of children under the age of 15? This is not an exercise in the field of science fiction, but a very real task, over which politicians, economists, physicians, marketers, cultural figures and not only fight in the USA.
Today the average life expectancy of an American woman is 86,6 years, and the age at which she can retire is 62. For men, these numbers are not too different. (A slight drop in life expectancy for a certain category of the population does not change the general trend). And if the first figure rises to 100 - in reality, which is what the advances in medicine convince us: better diagnostics, drugs, vaccines and a revolution in surgery - then something needs to be done with the second figure.
An attempt at a fair conversation on this topic, according to the author of the article, Tatiana Vorozhko, cost the election to a promising politician. Marco Rubio at the debates during the 2016 party election year proposed raising the retirement age to 2 years for those who are now 30-40 years old, and lost the primaries in his native Florida next day.
But it is obvious that working 35-40 years and then playing golf, fishing and frying hot dogs is impossible. At least massively, the Americans will not have enough government pension or their own savings.
And most do not want. Still, 40 years of fishing can get bored, especially after a tense but interesting career. Already today at the age of 65-79, 23% of Americans and 5% of those who work for 80 are working.
"The elderly gentleman is looking for ... work"
Three quarters of Americans older than 60 said they wanted to work, mostly for other non-financial reasons, in a survey of insurance company Aegon. But only a quarter of them at work have programs that help them realize themselves in a new role, writes Time magazine in a special issuededicated to the phenomenon of growth of life expectancy.
Physically and mentally healthier than their parents at the same age, older Americans are looking not so much for recognition and financial success as for opportunities to contribute to the improvement of the world, to leave a legacy behind, but at the same time to have flexible working hours and less physical activity. ... They have "climbed" to the very top of Maslow's pyramid and are demanding satisfaction of their new needs.
Individual consulting companies and financial institutions in the United States help companies and private clients adapt to changing demographics. Workers are encouraged to find an “anchor career” or “second act” and advise Americans already at the age of 40-50 to think about who they want to be “when they grow up”.
This could be part-time teaching, volunteering, which older people are actively involved in in the United States, or, for example, legal advice instead of taking cases in the courts. Retirement, experts argue, will not be one step, but a long process that can drag on for years and decades and often includes obtaining a second education or living abroad - just as young people do now after school.
Other categories of workers also benefit from the objective need for employers to create working conditions that will help postpone retirement. The opportunity, for example, to work 4 days a week will benefit everyone - some in order to reduce the workload and have a day to visit doctors, and for others - to prepare for a marathon, start their own business or devote more time to children and home.
One of the ways not to depend on the will of the employer is to have your own business. According to the Kaufman Foundation, in 2011, every fifth entrepreneur was 55-64 years old, and half of them were over 45. If you start a business at 55, then in 10 years, if it goes well, you can decide for yourself how much to work and what functions to perform. (This and some other data presented in this article is from the collection "The Benefits of Aging. How Long Life Changes the World of Medicine, Work, Innovation" edited by Paul Irving).
Population aging is a godsend for business
Experts urge to consider the aging of the population not as an economic burden, but as excellent business opportunities. Ergonomic chairs? Orthopedic sports shoes? Non-slip surfaces for bathrooms and showers? Smartphones with big buttons? Thin soulful film about the complexity of a mature marriage and the problems of adult children? Escort service: “A gray-haired gentleman goes with you to the philharmonic society, to the exhibition and walk along the embankment”? In 2017, half the population of the United States will be people older than 50.which will control 70% of total private consumption. Everything that helps older people lead an active and productive life is doomed to commercial success.
And the American business is listening. Much of the news channel advertising is aimed at people older than 60. The commercials show attractive, well-groomed men and women, setting new standards for mature beauty. Television series in depth and quality already bypass films that go to the box office.
New areas in cities are being planned so that there is no need to use a car. The models are delighted with such a “European”, as they call it here, both environmentalists, young people and the elderly, who do not become dependent on their relatives and guardians after the car keys are taken from them. In Washington, by the way, special free classes are offered in which local seniors are taught how to use the subway. After all, they have been just a car all their lives.
In new homes, you hardly see the door handles that need to be turned, which is difficult for people with arthritis. Instead of them, handles are installed, which should be pressed on top. In addition to people with arthritis, there is a bonus for dogs who learn to open the door with a single jump on the handle.
We build life in a new way - based on the life expectancy of years in 100
Expansion of horizons affects decisions in personal life at the beginning of the journey. The choice for women between motherhood and career in general becomes irrelevant. If a woman chooses motherhood and devotes 20 to her children only, what will she do with the remaining 50? On the other hand, it looks absolutely reasonable for a long, about five years, child care leave: with 60 years of work experience, 5 years can be devoted to children, it's just 8%!
Some life strategies that, with a life horizon of 65 years, might seem “loser”, today look quite reasonable. For example, one of my relatives, who was an excellent student at school and dreamed of becoming a biologist, dropped out of university in her third year, and at the age of 24 already has two children. “It's okay,” I tell her father, my husband's brother. - Vicki can always finish her studies, and if she goes to work at the age of 30, when the children go to school, she will have 40 or even more years of career ahead. Much better than having a baby and being torn between a baby and a career at the same age, when there are already responsible responsibilities at work, but there is still no power to dictate conditions. "
You should not laugh at university graduates who have returned to live with their parents and save money on housing. Without mom and dad, they will still live 70 for years, and 2-3 of the year savings can be a huge help at the moment.
And if you have to work longer, then you need to look better and take better care of your health. Americans began to smoke less, play more sports and eat healthier.
The cost of cosmetics and cosmetic procedures are growing cosmic pace. In 2015, the popularity of Botox increased by 2000% compared to 759, according to American Society of Plastic Surgeons... Maintaining health, beauty and mental well-being - Wellness is another promising global business, as well as a philosophy of life that will surely stay with us for a long time.
In 1900, life expectancy in the United States was 47 years. Those who are born today can expect to spend a century on this planet. Pessimists see the future of the West as a huge nursing home, where immigrants from third world countries push carts with local old people, changing the essence and culture of Western civilization. Optimists are a more mature, stable and wiser world, where people live long and productive years of life. But no matter how this new world may become, we already had a chance to become witnesses of its birth.
The original column is published on the website. Ukrainian service "Voices of America".
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