This summer Hymans Robertson launched a series of podcasts entitled ‘Understanding longevity'.  

    In the first episode, I was joined by a fellow longevity consultant as well as David Sinclair, Director at the International Longevity Centre (ILC), the UK's specialist thinktank on the impact of longevity on society.  

    We discussed the importance of life expectancy and how it affects society. For example, if more of us live longer and fewer of us have children, how does this impact the economy? With fewer people of working age, there will be fewer of us to spend money. 

    There’s also the question of long-term care; how can an aging population keep themselves healthy? Research by Hymans Robertson has shown that people underestimate how long they’re going to live. “Most people assume they’ll never need care, but we have to be careful we don’t deny our aging,” says David. “It’s inevitable we’ll need support, so it’s a question of working out how we deal with that.” 

    ‘Saving for care funding’ could be the next logical step along from saving for retirement.  

    But getting young people to save enough for retirement, let alone an additional phase, is already a challenge. And they’re not in the most positive position: “This is a generation who have come late to autoenrollment, but who also missed out on Final Salary pension schemes,” says David. “Generally speaking, they’re confident, but uninformed. Their view is that they’ll work longer to make up the shortfall, without recognising the fact that they might not be able to.”   

    Perhaps it’s the responsibility of financial services to develop more suitable products? David says there needs to be more than equity release so that people can use their wealth as an income at different stages in life.  

    He also mentioned that government policies need to narrow the gap between rich and poor. “We need to do more to reduce ill health in the first place,” he says. Use of behavioural techniques is one solution, but disincentivising things that are bad for us might be easier.  

    The outlook is a mixture of positive and negative 

    Life expectancy is going to grow, but at a slower rate than we’ve seen. There will be further medical improvements – potentially a total ban on tobacco smoking – but the flip side is our growing reliance on technology, which reduces the need for us to do physical activity. “You don’t need to leave home to get any takeaway anymore, you can have a delivery of anything you possibly want.” 

    So get up from that desk and take this podcast out with you! 

    Listen to "Understanding longevity - Why does life expectancy matter? - Episode 35" on Spreaker.

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