Is having a longer life good for a country?

No one so far has lived longer than 122 – the age reached by chain-smoking Frenchwoman Jeanne Calment in 1997

Life as we know it is not the same. Cliché I know, but if you think about it, especially for those who have been around at least for the past 50 years, would know that is true.

One thing we, the more “mature generation”, would realise is that when we were younger, there were not that many people who had grey hairs. Those that might have it could be our parents, uncles and other relatives. But now, we can see people having grey hairs very early in the morning when we open up our eyes and stand in front of a mirror, grey hairs in the public transportation, when we drive we can see grey hair to the left or right of our car, … basically, wherever we go. People have grey hairs naturally or unnaturally.

It is interesting to note that life expectancy for the last 200 years has improved tremendously from around 45 years to slightly above 80 now. Since 1960 alone, the average world life expectancy has gone up by 20 years. By 2070, the scientists predicted that it would go up to 125.

However, before we get overexcited, it was pointed out that the calculation of average life expectancy might not be an accurate assessment.  One argument was that, as in any averaging concept, when there are wide discrepancies between two numbers, the average number is unreliable (a person of 60 years old and another 20 years old will show an average of 40 years).

As the longevity of human seems to be inevitable, we have to make the best of it and there are some indicators that having longer lives might bring benefits to productivity and growth to a country. However, the question will be how to ensure that productivity improves as the population aged. There are ways but the biggest challenge will be to make all the generations play ball together. For a start, one approach as suggested by an author is to drop the labelling of generations. She pointed to the fact that “… behaviours know no generational boundaries and how to work with people based on their talents, strengths, and weaknesses rather than simply slapping on a generational label…” Probably it might work or not.

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