Professor James Banks gave the 2018 InstEAD Annual Lecture on ‘Extending working lives: a solution to the challenges of an ageing population?’
He gave an insightful perspective on the issue of an ageing population and argued that working longer was necessary to overcome some of the challenges of increased life expectancy.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, he said that in the near future our pensions are likely to be less generous, the state pension age will increase and we’re going to need to work for longer into our old age. However, this should not necessarily be seen negatively as it provides opportunities to consider older people’s working capacity and skills and identify the kinds of work available to them.
Part of James’ research with the English Longitudinal Study of Aging (ELSA) estimates what percentage of older people are healthy enough to work and explores the incentives that could encourage people to work more as they get older.
James presented six different cohorts of people who were born this century and showed what percentage of their lives they would have typically spent working. People born between 1900 – 1904 would have spent about 66% of their lives in work, whereas those born between 1970 – 1974 are likely to only spend 52% of their lives working.
He went onto say that this reduction in our working lives is a challenge for individual households and for governments. James also touched on some of the intergenerational issues such as older people not working because there are looking after their grandchildren, enabling their own children to work. Also grandparents may be helping their children or grandchildren to pay off debts such as tuition fees.
Also government policy in health, social care, disability, work and tax will all have to be more joined up in the future to cope with our aging population.
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