How Longevity Will Impact Our Economy and Workplaces


A report from Stanford University Business School says, "Those who stay ahead of the curve on serving older customers could become massive winners." Photo: Morsa Images/Getty Images

Longevity may be the most important trend we’ve ever experienced. It’s driven by — and in turn, it affects — everything from health to housing, money to technology, lifestyle to social policy. There’s so much to be aware of — and it’s just getting started! Now you can keep up with all the latest developments in this weekly column.


The current issue of Stanford Business is looking at the impact of longevity, concluding we’re in “the longevity economy.”

This article summarizes the key takeaways:

  • “Older consumers” control “an increasingly large slice of GDP and account for about half of all consumer spending. Robert Chess, who teaches a Stanford University course on older consumers and workers, “compares ‘the longevity economy’ to the computer industry back in the 1980s, stating that those who are ahead of the curve on serving older customers will becomes ‘massive winners’”
  • There will be new life paths and new life stages, rather than the old model of “learn, earn, retire”
  • On the other hand, ageism could become an even bigger problem, especially in the workforce
  • Intergenerational solutions will become increasingly important

The article offers a good quick basis for the topic, but there’s much more detail in this second article from Stanford, “We Have 30 Extra Years: A New Way of Thinking About Aging.” The article notes that the “longevity economy” is worth a staggering US$22 trillion worldwide ($8.3 trillion in the U.S. alone), and that figure may be conservative: ”AARP … estimates that people over 50 already account for half of consumer spending worldwide.”

By 2035, people over the age of 65 will outnumber people under 18 in the U.S. for the first time ever. By 2050, they’ll outnumber people under 15 for the first time ever.

The world now contains equal numbers of toddlers and octogenarians.

I urge you to read the full article because it goes on to detail the many areas of society that will be totally revolutionized by longevity.

David Cravit is a Vice-President at ZoomerMedia, and Chief Membership Officer of CARP. He is also the author of several books on the “reinvention” of aging. You can check out some of his other writing here.