The Impact Of Living Longer Lives

Luxe gets the lowdown from the experts at Hartmann on the impact of living longer lives...
Living Longer

The demographics are ageing, and with this comes many consequences. In 2050, 1 in 4 UK residents will be over 65. Today, this population accounts for 19% of the UK population. When another 7.5 million are in retirement, the pressure on the remaining population to contribute to the prosperity of the nation increases.


Why is this happening?

The easiest answer to this question about an ageing population is that our life expectancy has increased.

Improved healthcare, better lifestyle choices, and better living conditions mean we are living for much longer. In 1981, the average lifespan was 76.9 for females and 73.1 for males. By 2061 it is thought that this average age will have increased by 10 years.

On the flip side, the level of fertility has dropped. Right now, the number of under 30s-year-olds having children are at the lowest. Consequently, while the number of retirees increases, the numbers entering the workforce will be at their lowest ever level.


What is the consequence of this ageing population?

So, we are now aware that the ratio between over 65s and those in the working population is about to change dramatically. A much bigger population will suddenly be considered old or elderly and fewer young people to add to the tax income and productivity.

However, other consequences of this older population require some thought. The truth is that our care infrastructure is not set to cope with the bigger number of people requiring support.

If you imagine that in 2017, of the 16.6 million people admitted to hospital, 3.5 million were over the age of 75. With an increase in elderly will come an increase in hospital admissions that the NHS and social care are not equipped to deal with.

The way that statisticians measure this problem is through the dependency ratio. They seek to understand the balance between the number of dependents and the working population. People who are retired and children under the age of 15 are considered dependents. Currently, this figure stands at 57.06%, with slightly more dependents than the working population.

The imbalance is going to become much more acute in the coming decades.


How will this impact society?

The result of this dependency ratio will be slower economic growth. As more people need financial support from the state and less are feeding into the production structures, the environment for slower economic growth is created.

There are also going to be massive pressure on health and social services. There will be an increase in conditions commonly associated with grower older. More cases of dementia, incontinence, eye problems, hearing issues, diabetes, blood pressure, arthritis and other mental health concerns related to loneliness.


What can we do to help?

We need to make changes to the infrastructure and build this up to meet the needs of an ageing population. However, we also need to consider working past our retirement age if we are capable.

We need to design our houses better, so people can stay independent in their home for longer, we need to act as a community to support the ageing population, and we need to better recognise the work of unpaid and family carers.

All these choices can be brought in incrementally as we move into a future with a much older population. People in their 40s are likely to be better planning a working life into their late 60s and setting aside funds to self-support their lifestyle.

However, governments also must put the resources in place to cope when these people need support in their older years.

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