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What does living longer mean for you, the economy, and the planet? In this eye-opening episode, CIO Tony Roth and Professor Andrew Scott, renowned economist and co-author of The 100-Year Life delve into the fascinating topic of longevity and discuss how longer lifespans are reshaping retirement, health care, and the very fabric of our societies.

Longevity: The Silver Society and Our Economy

Tony Roth, Chief Investment Officer

Andrew Scott, Professor of Economics, London Business School


Tony Roth: This is Tony Roth, chief investment officer of Wilmington Trust, and you are listening to Capital Considerations. Well, today we have an episode on longevity. It is a topic many of us have not given oft consideration to, but it's really such a fascinating topic. As we see increases in medicine by leaps and bounds, the prospects for longer life, for humans, if we don't extinguish ourselves for some silly reason beforehand is really becoming quite compelling.

There are so many ramifications of this that range from the tragic to the idea of having to have more resources before we get to our golden years.

But on the other hand, if those years could be lived with a good quality of life, wouldn't that be exciting? So much to consider, so many economic ramifications, and we have a wonderful guest here today to help us understand these issues because I think that there's so many possibilities. It's a fun topic to talk about. Andrew Scott, economist, focusing on longevity and an aging society.

He's currently a professor of economics at the London Business School and he is also a consulting scholar at Stanford at their Center on Longevity. He is also on the advisory board of the UK's Office for Budget Responsibility, and he's a co-author of The 100-Year Life and other books. He's a recipient of an Economic and Social Research Council grant from the UK government and many other credentials.

Andrew, thank you so much for being here and educating us on this topic that tantalizes, that provides some really exciting hope and prospects for all of us.

Andrew Scott: Thank you. Pleasure to be here. Always happy to talk about longevity. I think it's something that we misunderstand a lot and is incredibly important, so looking forward to our conversation.

Tony Roth: The first thing that comes to mind is while I'm an investor now, I had been a planning person for many years as what we call a trust and estates lawyer here in the U.S., and we spend a lot of time with our clients thinking about the resource base that they have when they need to retire. And I know there's so many foundational ideas that we need to get into around this whole idea of longevity and where does it come from and how confident are we. But I think my mind immediately goes to the idea that maybe people can't retire. Many of us that might have $10 million, $20 million, $30 million in the bank, but if they're going to live to a 100 or 120, Maybe 50 or 60 years is going to exhaust that resource base a lot faster than we realize. It's pretty fascinating.

Andrew Scott: Absolutely. And we're going to focus on the financial one. It is interesting. But of course, the other way of looking at it, you've got more time for your money to compound as well. So, there's also an advantage to longer life from the financial point of view. But I really do think it changes everything.

I think we make a mistake in terms of debate. We hear a lot about an aging society, which is about there being more old people. And how do we deal with older people? But for me, the really important thing is longevity, which is no matter what your age, whether you are 20, 50 or 80, you have more time ahead of you than past generations.

And so you need to invest more in your future. And by invest, I don't just mean financial. I also mean your relationships, your health, your skills, your sense of purpose. Because we've never had to live such long lives and we need to change how we age. There's not of focus on an aging society, on a change in the age structure of the population.

More old people. There isn't enough focus on how do we change how we age, given we all now face the prospect of longer lives? With those longer lives, we need to adapt how we live and what we do at all ages because we now have a new risk. We might outlive our money, our health, our relationships, our skills, and our purpose, and no one wants to do that.

And of course, the financial implications of where people start. But once they start pulling on that thread, they realize, oh wow, it goes, was much deeper.

Tony Roth: So let's start with the basic premise of living longer. When I've thought about mortality tables, whether it's insurance, after Second World War, they really started to lengthen and then they reached a plateau, at least in the developed world. And now they're starting to take off again it seems, with new medicines, how far are they being extended and how confident are we and how old do you need to be to really get this longevity dividend? I mean, I'm sitting here 55 years old and I can't swim anymore cause I've ruined my shoulder and my thumb is hurting me and I'm coughing for two months. I can't even make it to 57, it feels like.

Andrew Scott: Well, I've got to 58, so believe me there’s hope for you yet. There's all these things you now have to worry about because beforehand, if life expectancy was 65, 66, perhaps you could put up with that and you'd accept it. But if life expectancy now for someone of your age, income and education is sort of 90, then wow, you need to tackle those challenges.

So life expectancy, I don't want to give the standard professor's answer. It's complicated because of course, the other thing to note is that actually the life expectancy, the typical average length of life that you can expect, very few people live that long. Most people live longer than the average. So there's all sorts of challenges about risk.

But you asked a question about average life expectancy, and one of the most amazing statistics is a thing called best practice life expectancy. And it's a country at any point in time with the highest life expectancy. So right now it's Japan, where Japanese women have a life expectancy of 87. And if you look at that concept of best practice, the country with the highest life expectancy at birth at any particular time, over the last 150 years, last a hundred years, it's increased by two or three years every decade. It’s almost linear. Quite remarkable. Every 10 years, best practices increased by two or three. Every generation's living six to nine years longer than the previous one. And that is, phenomenal, and that's 150 years. We've looked at the last 30 years, the 10 years before COVID. COVID obviously complicates things. That's still been the way.

What you are starting to see is a bit of a slowdown in some countries. And we can talk a little bit about the reasons for that, but of course, America has a big problem, like my own, it's life expectancy trends are lagging behind best practice. But if you drill down deeper into that, you can see that a very big picture of inequality.

And so life expectancy is sort of, static in the UK and U.S. the last few years. But if you look at those with higher income and higher education, it's continuing to rise. But probably about one year over decade I think we can now expect. But globally, life expectancy is now above 70. In the U.S. and UK life expectancy is high seventies, and we now indisputably can expect a long life.

And later on I'm sure we'll dig around and say, actually you can expect even longer life than 76, 77.

Tony Roth: Is it not the case that if one is fortunate enough to be in the right demographic cohort, which is to say educated, economically sound, take care of yourself, et cetera, that with the advent of all the new types of medicine and health care, that we're not experiencing, what I would've thought would be a sharp upward increase in longevity.

Andrew Scott: No. This is again where it gets complicated. So what's interesting, So life expectancy, it's based on the probability of going from naught to one, then from one to two years of age and two to three. And you add up with those probabilities and you get life expectancy.

And so what's sort of happened now is that, basically a newborn, certainly in that demographic group that you've just been discussing, it has a really, really high chance of making it to 60, like, you know, 98% chance of making it to 60. And so now all the life expectancy gains that are happening are coming at much older ages.

So you're not getting any contribution from improvements in going from naught to 20 or 20 to 40 or 40 to 60. All the improvements now are only coming from 80 plus, and there's some evidence that actually it's speeding up at that rate. But because the only contribution is coming from 80 plus, I always think of it like a telescope.

You can expand the telescope by expanding every single segment. And what sort of happened with these survival rates is you kind of now maximize the chances of a newborn making it to 60. So you've extended those first three segments of the telescope fully. So the only way you can make the telescope longer is by raising the chances of reaching those very higher ages.

The result is life expectancy gains are slowing down somewhat because you're only now getting improvements at the fourth and fifth segment of the telescope. But the rate at which those expanding seem to be increasing. So we're seeing a signs of an increase in improvements and mortality at older ages.

The results are quite staggering cause you look at, say the UK, which is not particularly good at pushing up life expectancy. It'll be this probably roughly the same in the U.S. A newborn child born in the UK today is estimated to have a 50% chance of making it to 93, 94, and that's the average child, and they've got a one in five chance of making it to a hundred.

It's not just we have a long life, but we're now getting this higher probability of making it into your 10th or even your 11th decade.

Tony Roth: What is the impact on our economy of having more folks live for so much longer because on the one hand, we think about having a society like China, for example, or even much of Europe, where there is a, relative to the last a hundred years, there is becoming a generation of elderly that seems to help the economy from a consumption standpoint, consumption base, but on the other hand, is no longer contributing to the productive output of the society. Is that what we're talking about here? Or on the other hand, does it mean that people are going to be by force of necessity as we understand the longevity, they’re going to be just working longer. They're going to be more productive for longer. That's going to help fulfill the labor shortages that we have. How do we start to attack this conceptual problem?

Andrew Scott: Let me first explain what I mean by an aging society view and why I think that that's really misleading, why it's a problem.

The aging society view is one that I've been told about since I was undergraduate 30, 40 years ago. It's a standard way we view things. And the Aging Society story is the one you just sort of painted, which is that the birth rate is falling. People having far fewer children. So in the UK and U.S., the average woman is now expected to have 1.6 children over their lifetime.

If that number is less than 2.1, the population falls unless you have immigration. And actually 1.6 is quite good compared to say Italy, where it's 1.3; Japan, where it's 1.2; China, 1.1; and South Korea where it's 0.8. So I mean, it's extraordinary having far fewer children. So younger cohorts are smaller. And because people are living for longer, those older cohorts where there are many of them, because the birth rate was high, there's now a lot more older people.

And then you have to throw on top of that something, which is very pronounced in the U.S., which is the baby boomers. After the Second World War, there was a really big increase in the fertility rate. So you've got this really large cohort that's now living a very long time, and the consequence of all those forces is fewer younger people and a lot more older people. And that's what I call the aging society story. There's a change in the age structure of the population, at least for an economist, it’s always seen as a miserable story. You know, old people, they, they get ill, they need health care, they need a pension. They don't work, they don't create resources.

They're a burden. They're literally, it's called a burden on the old age dependency ratio. And it's always a very bleak story that's painted because of it. It's going to lead to slow economic growth. It's going to lead to high inflation because these people are demanding things and not producing things. It's a horrible, miserable story.

Tony Roth: Can I just ask about that for one second, Andrew? Is it always that way? In other words, couldn't it be the case that if a place like Japan, I would imagine they've saved enough that now the younger generation has this wonderful group of consumers that are just consuming whatever they're producing.

They've got their own resources because they've been savers. Are there no societies that work that way?

Andrew Scott: What you're now talking about is what's often called the silver society, silver economy, which is okay, and we've got all these older people. Wow. This is a fantastic business opportunity because we can sell products to older people.

So the fact that normally appears on the consultant side at this point is to say that in Japan, they now sell more adult diapers than baby diapers. So actually, you know, as a firm, stop making baby diapers, make adult diapers, focus on all the things that older people want. So this is where you're get a list of things like cruises and walkers.

Here are the products that you all should invest in. I don’t disagree with that. I just think that that's not the right way of looking at it because Japan, which has this very pronounced aging society, much more pronounced than the U.S. for instance. The trouble they have there of course, is that because they invested for a much larger population, they've now got a surplus of buildings, a surplus of offices, a surplus of factories, a surplus of capital.

So you don't want to do any investment. And so the return on capital is very low. So one of the reasons that economists say that investors have had such a miserable, low, long-term rate of return, these low rate interest rates, is this aging society story, which is they want people to consume, but you don't invest because you've got a declining in population in Japan. You can find the silver lining. Oh, this products to sell to older people, but it's still a story that GDP is down cause there's fewer people producing and you are now focusing on that older economy. And I think that's a mistake. I think it's to misunderstand what's really happening. You have climate change, you have AI, and whenever I hear people talk about those, they get really engaged in the topic and say, well, it's really important that we adjust and adapt.

How do we make sure we make the most of AI? How do we adjust to the demands of climate change? And there's a big focus on the business opportunities. When it comes to aging, no one gets excited about aging because it's a bad news story. People just don't want to get old. But to be honest, it's better than the alternative, I think.

There's a whole bunch of positive messages here, but what we never do is think, how do we adapt and adjust to living longer lives because we can improve how we age. And that's why I want to focus on what I call the longevity society, not the aging society. The aging society story says there's more old people.

Old people age in a certain way. We can't do anything about it. But the really key thing about what's happening with longer lives is that me, at 58, I have more time ahead of me than any previous other 58-year-old. And so I have to invest more in my future. And yes, I will have to work for longer if I don't want to have a lower stand of living.

I need to create more income and more resources. But I have more reasons to invest in my health, invest in my relationships, to invest in my finances, because I got more years ahead of me. That I call prospective age. You know, there's three concepts of age. There’s chronological age. How many candles are on my birthday cake? How many years have I seen.

There’s prospective age, which is how many more years have I got to come? And that's a really important number. So the average Brit has never been so old, but never had so many years left to live. And then the third concept of age is biological age, which is how fit and healthy I am.

And also biologic age, we all know it's malleable. We all know that if we eat too much, drink too much, we don't sleep enough, we get too stressed. We age badly. And then you think, okay, so all right, how do we adjust? Well, if we are living longer lives, which we are, if we can make them healthier for longer, if we can make them productive for longer, that'll be good news for the economy.

But it also says there's a whole bunch of new products around, which will be great for firms to tap into, which is not selling older people adult diapers. It's actually saying, how do I keep you healthy, active, and engaged for longer? And that's at all ages, not just older people.

Tony Roth: As I'm putting together the pieces here of this longevity society, Andrew, in order for it to work, there needs to be a healthy relationship between the extended longevity and the productivity of the individual.

You can't have a healthy society where, the longevity increases, but the productivity doesn't. Not everyone's lucky enough to have enough savings for 50 years or 60 years after they retire. What I would imagine is that there's probably going to be a fundamental mismatch, and it's going to become an increasingly difficult problem for societies.

It feels to me like, people feel entitled to retire. They've worked 30 or 40 years, they can't go on and I can't do it anymore. So they're going to retire regardless, even if they have 50 or 60 years to have to worry about in retirement instead of 20 or 30. But the other thing that strikes me, is that in terms of how people are living longer, it doesn't feel as though the mental faculties are keeping up with the physical.

In other words, we're keeping our bodies alive, but from a productivity standpoint, we're still experiencing similar mental decline. If you look at Nobel Prize winners, all their best papers are written when they're 25 years old. You go to college and you want to have a, no offense to the 58 year old professor, much less the 78 year old professor,

You want to have a 32-year-old professor and 35-year-old professor teaching you. So is there a mismatch? How do people keep their mental faculties at, at a level where they can be productive and continue to contribute?

Andrew Scott: Everything is saying is exactly why I think we need to adapt to longevity society because for the first time ever, becoming old is now something most people are going to expect to do.

That's never been the case before. The real change is not that there's more old people, it's just that the young and middle age can now expect to become old. And for most of human history, your chances of becoming 90 are pretty small, like 5%. As I said, oh, look at the UK data, and which is by no means exceptional, the government says you've got a more than 50% chance of making it to 90.

So for the first time ever, you have to put more into preparation for being 90. We have to change how we age. And of course the problem is we're not changing how we age, and we have a culture that is very ageist, that underestimates the capacity of our later years. It says that old people aren't as capable as younger people.

There's surprised little evidence that they're just different. Now what we've got, I think is the following. The first is we've already got these long lives and people worry about them because for all the reasons you just said, I don't keep working. You know, my job's difficult. It's boring, it's dull. I don't want to get ill.

So what we have to do, I call it the longevity imperative. Here's the sort of three key statements. The first is, the stats say you're likely to live a long time. Point two, you worry about living a long time. Point three, what are you going to do now, irrespective of your age to make sure you age well, because you will probably live a long life.

We have to achieve a three dimensional longevity approach. We already have longer lives. That's dimension one. We've got to make sure they're healthy for longer and we've got to make sure they're productive for longer. And that's how we need to adapt to ensure that we maintain our health, mental and physical for as long as possible, and we maintain our sense of purpose, engagement, and ability to work for as long as possible.

If we don't, we have a major problem because we can no longer afford to plan that we’re going to live to 70 and then lift to 90, right? Because then you will be in bad health. You will be in bad financial situation, you will not have a role to play in society. So we as a society and individuals need to wake up and go, wow, we need to change how we age.

Tony Roth: But can we, in other words, does our ability to keep ourselves physically alive, does that far outpace our ability to keep our minds in a productive space?

Andrew Scott: This kind of question is to what extent is how we age, malleable. And I'm going to take two approaches that, one of which is a behavioral, one of which is a science.

Science is working on understanding how we age, because now most diseases are age related. The biggest diseases we get as we get older now are cancer, cardiovascular, dementia, arthritis. The biggest risk factor is age. So there's a lot of jar sciences called understanding the biological pathways of aging.

Now, I'm not here to tell you they're going to invent a pill that will keep you young for 500 years, but what will happen is that many of those age related diseases will start to get treatment. We've seen some progress recently with dementia. You may see similar for arthritis. So just as in the past, science has made huge inroads, science and public health in reducing infant mortality, reducing midlife mortality.

We're going to do the same for the diseases that affect older people. So there will be progress. The other thing is the sort of behavioral side. There's loads of things that we can do to keep your brain better and to minimize your chances of getting your cognition declining, as well as keeping yourself fit and healthy.

The big change is, you’ve never, as a 58-year-old, had the same incentive to do that as I do now. That expression, “they look good for their age.” We know that some people age better than others and it's no great mystery when you see some people who age well and know don’t, what's behind it. So through behavior and through the health system, we can improve how we age.

The big difference though, is we need to fundamentally change our health system, because right now our health system: hospitals and doctors, primary care is very little to do with health. It's to do with illness. What we've got to try and do is keep people healthy for longer. That's part one. And then the second challenge is how do I work for longer?

I think we're going to see a pretty fundamental change. I'm not here to say everyone's going to be working forever, but I think we are going to see some changes. Because what you see is a breakup in the nature of the life course. In my book The 100-Year Life, we focus on this three stage life. The 20th century created education, a career path retirement at 60 odd, and then retirement.

So three stages, education, career, and retirement. And you cannot just stretch that out over 90 or a hundred years. It doesn't work. So if we're going to be working for longer, we need to do things differently before retirement as well as after we’re done.

Tony Roth: What about the willingness of individuals to have the recognition?

We're all preconditioned to deserve retirement when we hit early sixties. Even if conceptually we're told that, hey, you might live to 90, you may run out of resources. You need to plan for 40 years of retirement resources, et cetera, not just 25. It seems as though we're going to have a crisis because people aren't going to behave that way, are they?

Andrew Scott: We're talking about fundamental changes in how people live their life. So it's not going to be change on a dime and everyone's going to do it. Social change takes a while. Let me give a few suggestions that actually it's already happened. In the 10 years before COVID, 80% of U.S. employment growth came from people aged over 55.

In Europe, 120% of employment growth came from people aged over 55. So already older people are working more than they did 20, 30 years ago. So there's already adjustment happening. Older people are working for longer. One in six Americans aged 76 is still working. I find that an extraordinary statistic. I have a family member who's American and they just stopped working in their early eighties. So already people are working for longer.

The trouble is we're not always helping people work for longer. So for me, the real problem, say in France where there's that backlash against raising retirement age from 62 to 64. And by the way, in most countries, including America, retirement is illegal. It's just when you can get a state pension that determines when people stop work.

What people in France are saying is a couple of things. The first is, not everyone is having a longer life. And if you're working in a hard manual job, you cannot keep working for longer and your life expectance isn't increasing. So, if you raise retirement age, you're wiping out retirement for a group of people. Fine if you're a college professor, you can carry on work into their nineties. It's not a challenge. The second issue is, and this is where we've got to be smart as a society and as individuals, is if all governments do is say, hey, you're got to work for longer. It does nothing to help people work for longer.

What you see, if you look at the labor markets from about 50 onwards, people start to withdraw. And it's not that they say, oh, I'm rich enough, I don't need to work for a few people that's true. But actually people start to leave the labor market because they're ill. They've got to look after someone who's ill.

Their skills are starting to decline. Or because of ageism and they're perceived as being unproductive. We've really got to think, well actually we're going to make people work for longer, how do we support them working for longer? And that's about health and education. Right now, there's not enough focus on keeping people healthy from 50s onwards.

And to be honest, if you're not working at 65, raising retirement to 66, will make no difference to you because you're not going to suddenly get a job. So both as individuals and as governments think, how can I support working for longer? And that may be changing what you do. It may be taking career breaks, but it's certainly going to involve investing in your health and your skills.

So a lot of deep seated changes. It will happen. The process is already happening. One of the things I find interesting about the three stage life is in the 20th century, we invented two stages of life. They didn't exist before. We invented teenagers and we invented retirees. My father was born in 1925. He was never a teenager.

He went from being a child to an adult. It took a long while to work out what teenage years were. I think New Yorker mentions the word in 1937 and after the second World War, it's the Bobby Sockers. Then James Dean comes along and says, that's what teenagers are. Similarly with retirement. U.S. invents retirement homes, Florida communities, et cetera.

But it takes a long while to adjust. But I can see that process of adjustment already happening. Look around you. There's more and more older people working.

Tony Roth: The comments that you're making, how specific are they to the UK versus the U.S.? Let's just focus on those countries. And the reason I ask is because in the U.S. we have such a, what I will call unabashed raw capitalist approach versus a policy led approach, which I think is more prevalent in Europe. I wonder whether the U.S. is in a better position because that capitalist approach is going to enable us to develop the type of economy that will provide, whether it be education or better healthcare, or on the other hand, whether these things require a more intentional set of policies that our system is frankly ill-equipped to put in place, given our short-termism here that we have in the U.S.

Andrew Scott: Different countries tackle problems in different ways, and clearly European solution wouldn't work in America. America's going to have to engage the private sector a lot more. Its health sector is much more private driven, et cetera.

You're going to have to get different solutions and you know these market, how employment at older ages is so much higher in America than in the UK. And the UK is much higher than the rest of Europe, where it's still quite low, but everywhere it's rising, it's like AI, it's like climate change. Everyone has a role to play and I think governments will have to take a lead role, and that's also going to include the US.

It doesn't mean it all has to be down to the U.S. There’s public health will take a role to play. Government provides already lots of financial support for R&D, for drugs and for treatment in hospitals. So you can give different incentives for focusing on aging healthily rather than drugs that treat people in the last days of life.

Why not try and focus on giving incentives to healthier provision of drugs. So lots of things governments can do even within its current framework. I think businesses have a huge role to play here. Business is the distribution arm of change. It's how the products and services we need to deliver healthy life will happen.

Now, let me just give an example around that. You think about the business opportunities. The business opportunities are supporting older people, they're great. You know, care homes, et cetera are a big business opportunity, but, I will pay a fortune to avoid getting dementia. Yeah, I'll spend money if I get dementia to be looked after.

But I will spend a lot of money to age healthily. And it's that market, the food and beverage industry, the education sector, the financial sector, the health sector, all needs to change to provide new services. But there is an enormous business opportunity there. And then the third thing is us as individuals, we all have a huge agency in the end because ultimately, keeping healthy as opposed to treating disease, we have a big role to play and I think that will be a very hard thing to adapt to. But if you look at drinking trends, you look at smoking trends over time, people have started to adopt more healthy ways of life, and I think it'll be the same with longevity. So it's going to be a balance of individuals, companies and governments, but I do think the U.S. in some areas will have to be more government led in terms of setting the incentives for healthy longevity. The key thing about aging is people age very diversely. Some of that is about socioeconomic circumstances, and that's a challenge.

Tony Roth: One of the things that I think is a critical word in so many of our podcasts and so many aspects of life is the idea of agency.

One key takeaway from today's conversation, if there is a key takeaway, is the agency we each have and the acknowledgement we need to make to ourselves that we may have an opportunity if we're fortunate to have a high quality, longer life and to build the right type of circumstances for ourselves to make that happen and to make it indeed high quality.

So, I think the agency takeaway here is really important on an individual level. From an investment standpoint, which is something that we focus a lot on, right now we're looking very actively at private market funds that are focused on senior living facilities, et cetera, because we think that's a growth market, not just because of the baby boomer generation, but also because of the underlying demographic trends around longevity.

We haven’t touched on, Andrew, one other question I want to ask you is, how would you think about the implications for the planet? I remember when I was a kid, we had 3 or 4 billion people sitting in elementary school and grade school. We talked about someday we'd have 4 billion people. Now we're already not close to 10 billion people.

It feels like the one loser in longevity is the planet. Is that too harsh statement?

Andrew Scott: I think it's overplayed. And, and by the way, just going back to the agency point of view, the key way I see this is that because you've got more future, you have more future selves. You exist in many more times in the future, and you've really got to make a friend of your future self.

That's the key to longevity. What can I give my future self? That actually fits in a little bit with the environmental question because you've got to think more long term. And I suspect people living longer, long-term thinking is what you also need for the environment. But let me tackle that. If suddenly life expectancy goes from 90 to 700, that's a huge implication for the world's population because there's going to be a load more people around life expect goes from a 100 to 700, you’re going to have seven times more people dramatic increases in life expectancy will eventually, after 600 years, lead to dramatic increases in the population. But I don't think that's what we're talking about. We're talking about actually just being healthier until you live to 90, and I think there's a huge interplay here because the environment and health go hand in hand together.

I think the population effects are quite small. The other thing is, if you're really worried about world population increases, then why would you be researching cancer drugs, for instance? And people don't turn around and say, we shouldn't be researching cancer drugs cause it makes people live for longer.

So the key thing here I think is about having a sustainable life that is healthy for longer. But it's the same thing for the planet. What the planet needs is a sustainable lifestyle. And if we haven't got a sustainable lifestyle, whether the world's population is eight or 10 billion is immaterial, the world's going to blow up. With a sustainable lifestyle, we can support larger populations. But again, I want to come back to actually, in many parts of the world, the population is declining and so we are seeing more and more older people. China's populations are going to go from 1.4 to 1 billion over the next 50, 60 years, and of that 1 billion, 45% will be over 65.

This is more about how we keep society vibrant and how we age well. That's the priority. I think we can accommodate that with climate change as well.

Tony Roth: For folks that want to maintain their, you've coined the term longevity literacy, which I love. What's the best resource that, that they can go to, to keep their eye on this target as developments occur, as there's new thinking?

For example, I think one of the most interesting things is the idea that I'm an investment guy. I'm a CIO. I've been doing this for 30 years, maybe I would take a couple years off, go back to school and then have another career. If I could pull it off, what resources should folks focus on to maintain and to build their longevity literacy so they see the opportunity so they can use their agency effectively?

Andrew Scott: So I'm glad you like the longevity literacy idea. It's actually not mine. I think it's a great label. It's about keeping informed about things. So, the first is just monitoring what life expensive trends are and what you need to do to be healthy. The other thing is, because we're all experimenting, you know, I'm 58, I've got a longer life than past generations.
I don’t know what works. And so you need to look around at the social innovators and go, oh wow, that was quite good. You know, Tony's off to go and do college age 57. I quite fancy doing that myself. So it's looking around, it's keeping abreast of the information on latest health because there's a whole new bunch of dietary advice, exercise advice, coming along.

Plus of course, it’s just listening to the classics because much advice about how you age better is something that your grandparents have told you. Sleep well, eat less, drink less, exercise more, don’t be stressed. What's changed is the incentive to do all of those things, because you're going to get those longer years now and you need to make the most of it.

So it is, I think, just about being aware and keeping track of things. I'll tie it to an investment decision about my own personal finances. I think it's where longevity electricity comes in because you can't plan your finances unless you've got some vague idea how long you might live for. But you also need to then say, well, okay, there's lots of things I can't pin down here.

The first is, how long will I be healthy for? Second, I don’t know for sure how long I'm going to live because I couldn't be one of those people who lives to 110, and that's much more likely. Three, I can't be definite about rates of return. All of those make investment decisions more complicated and you're going to have to trade off risk aversion versus working for longer human capital health.

But you've got to keep updating your thinking every year based on your own information about your own health and your own circumstances, because there's no one simple solution to this. And I think in terms of your financial portfolio, it's really important to understand, your portfolio is much wider than just your money. It's your health, your relationships, and your purpose, and all four of those have to be managed as you think about your longer life. So that's what I would mean by longevity literacy.

Tony Roth: Thank you. This has been a great conversation. I've learned a lot and want to remind all of our guests, Wilmington Trust.com for our latest thought leadership.

Thank you again, Andrew, for being here today. We really enjoyed the conversation.

Andrew Scott: My pleasure. Thank you for giving me the opportunity.



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Featured Guest

Andrew Scott   
Professor of Economics
London Business School 


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