Longevity, longer lives, ageing society

Driving the debate on longer lives

Declines in birth rates and increases in life expectancy in the last century have meant there is a larger proportion of older people in most countries. A new World Economic Forum (WEF) publication explores the debate with a major contribution from Swiss Re.

The world’s population of people aged over 65 is increasing at a rate of about 870,000 every day and this is an issue for both developed and developing nations. While it took France 115 years for its older population to rise from 7% to 14%, it’s predicted that countries including Brazil, Singapore and South Korea will take around just 20 years to achieve the same (United Nations, 2009).

A problem or an opportunity?

There has been widespread concern as to how we are going to afford the costs of people’s longer lives with fewer people of working age to support them. However, innovative approaches to addressing the challenge could provide society with opportunities throughout the world.

Swiss Re is at the forefront of the debate and, as a Strategic Partner of the WEF, recently participated in their ambitious publication from the Global Agenda Council on Ageing Societies, “Global population ageing: peril or promise?”

This publication consists of 22 essays on the challenges and opportunities posed by ageing societies, and was produced by an international panel of experts across a wide range of disciplines. The essays range from analysis of the media’s portrayal of ageing, to how organisations can adapt to older populations, to changing environments to accommodate these demographic trends.

New medical approach

Swiss Re’s Daniel Ryan, Head of Research & Development for Life & Health, co-wrote one of these essays on the challenges faced by the medical professions. Written with John Wilden, a former consultant neurosurgeon and currently CEO of Global Health Futures, the essay focuses on the need for greater investment and focus on geriatric care, and the extent to which further specialisation can be managed in patient-centred care models.

“Swiss Re supports this dialogue, along with the publication’s wide range of opinions and views on ageing societies,” comments Alison Martin, Division Head of Life & Health at Swiss Re. “This demonstrates the benefits of a broad range of stakeholders working with the WEF to expand this vital debate on funding longer lives.”

Download the publication “Global Population ageing: peril or promise?

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