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Global COVID recovery relies on better engaging over-50’s, finds new international report ahead of G20 Finance Ministers’ meeting

  • Spending by over-50’s across the G20 exceeds the combined GDP of Japan, Australia, Canada and Brazil
  • Every third dollar across the G20 is earned by over-50’s
  • Countries that invest more in preventative health are most likely to benefit from ‘longevity dividend’

A new international report launched ahead of the G20 Finance Ministers’ meeting by the International Longevity Centre UK (ILC-UK), the UK’s specialist think tank on the impact of longevity on society, today, unveils the significant, and growing, economic contributions of older people across the G20:

  • In 2014, workers aged 50 and over earned every third dollar in the G20 economy. By 2035, older workers are projected to generate nearly 40% of all earnings across the G20.
  • In 2015, spending by older households in the G20 averaged 22% of GDP, amounting to almost USD 10 billion, more than the combined GDP of Japan, Australia, Canada and Brazil.
  • The average unpaid contributions of older people across the EU and Turkey could be worth as much as 1.4% of GDP.

The report argues that leveraging the economic contributions of older people will be instrumental in the global post-pandemic recovery, and that addressing health barriers to spending, working, caring and volunteering for longer can unlock a significant ‘longevity dividend’.

Indeed, ILC-UK’s analysis finds that countries that spend more on health as a proportion of GDP see higher employment participation, informal contributions like caring and volunteering, and spending by older people.

Furthermore, increasing preventative health spending by just 0.1% is associated with a 9% increase in annual spending by people aged 60 and over.

Finally, ILC-UK predicts that if G20 countries enabled older people to work at the same rates as seen in Iceland, they could see an average GDP gain of around 7% – or USD 3.7 trillion.

To maximise the economic contributions of older people in the post-pandemic recovery and beyond, ILC-UK is calling on G20 Governments to deliver an Ageing Society New Deal that sees countries investing more in preventative health, supporting older workers and reducing avoidable barriers to spending.

David Sinclair, Director, International Longevity Centre UK argued:

“We’ve become accustomed to our ageing population being presented as a bad thing. Dangerous rhetoric suggesting older people are disposable has become far too common – particularly since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.”

“We can’t ignore the challenges for the public purse and the wider economy – but realising the opportunities of ageing can help address these. Older people’s social and economic impact is already significant, but there’s potential to increase this further. The barriers they face are in part avoidable – and the most important is poor health.”

“It’s time to start treating older people not as the problem, but as part of the solution. Coming out of this global recession will rely on us better engaging workers, consumers, volunteers and carers of all ages.”

Eric D. Hargan, US Deputy Secretary of Health and Human Services commented:

“Thinking about how we can support healthy aging for Americans, and people across the world, is a top priority for the United States.”

Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham said:

“We need to be bold and ambitious and grasp the opportunities of an ageing society, both to stimulate economic growth and to better meet the desires and needs of our older population. That’s why in Greater Manchester we’ve made ageing central to our local industrial strategy. I say to leaders in business, academia, health and social care, housing, culture and transport, come and work with us, use Greater Manchester as a testbed and take advantage of the ‘longevity dividend’.”

Dubravka Suica, European Commission Vice-President for Democracy and Demography argued:

“Let us also look at the untapped potential of ageing and the chances it provides. We need to better harness the opportunities that come with a society where people live longer, healthier and more productive lives. It is not only about older people but about solidarity between generations.”

Chris Born, Ageing Society Ambassador, Department for International Trade added:

“We welcome this report showing the importance of older people to the world’s economy and how essential good health is to making the most of this. We are helping innovative UK companies and organisations working on healthy ageing to realise their potential in providing services and products internationally.” 

Nigel Wilson, Group CEO, Legal and General commented:

“Demographic change is unstoppable. Unfortunately, an ageing population is too often seen as a negative, when in fact alongside the challenges it can be an economic growth driver and a source of commercial opportunity. This report tells us about the scale of that opportunity and what we can do to engage with it. It should be on the reading list for every business that wants to serve customers better.”

Speaking at ILC-UK’s launch today will be:

  • Eric D. Hargan, US Deputy Secretary of Health and Human Services
  • Andy Burnham, Mayor, Greater Manchester
  • Dubravka Suica, Vice-President, Democracy and Demography, European Commission
  • Mark Pearson, Deputy Director, Employment, Labour and Social Affairs, OECD
  • Gustavo Demarco, Pensions Lead, World Bank
  • Sophia Dimitriadis, Research Fellow, ILC

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