A popular view of older adults — that they are an unproductive drag on the American economy – is under challenge by a new brief commissioned by AARP called “The Longevity Economy.”
Authored by U.K.-based Oxford Economics, the brief refutes standard conventions of older adults and their economic impact, claiming that if the American population 50 and older were considered its own economy, its purchasing power would be the third highest in the world – after the United States and China – at a whopping $7.1 trillion annually.
Instead of a dwindling economic force, the brief insists that adults 50+ are actually reaching their peak economic productivity and will work long past traditional retirement age.
“Rather than being a burden to society, these older people will continue to fuel economic activity far longer than past generations had,” states the brief.
And so, it appears that Baby Boomers will continue to redefine aging just as they have art, sex, politics, religion, travel and culture.
The brief also suggests that businesses and governments would be well-served by viewing aging Americans as a source of both economic revenue and social capital.
Wait a second. Older adults aren’t really social and economic burdens?
“Older Americans are a vibrant group, driven to keep working and contributing to the economy either by financial need or simply the desire to stay active and feel fulfilled,” says the brief. “The growing presence will be not only a net gain for the overall American economy, but also a crucial opportunity for businesses.”
While the 2012 spending power of 50+ adults accounted for just under half of American economic activity (48%), by 2032 this number is projected to tally over half (52%).
And older adults are critical contributors in many other areas.
They make charitable donations of $100 billion annually.
And growth in health-related fields like tele-medicine, mobile health, and anti-aging products are all expected to explode.
What about entrepreneurship?
Nearly twice as many businesses are launched by adults in their 50’s and 60’s than their much-heralded 20’s counterparts – largely because they have not only the desire, but the capital, credit and experience.
The AARP brief –its full title “The Longevity Economy: Generating economic growth and new opportunities for business” — is expected to be a centerpiece for the much anticipated White House Conference on Aging held Monday, July 13, and streamed online.