Skip to main content

Thank you for visiting nature.com. You are using a browser version with limited support for CSS. To obtain the best experience, we recommend you use a more up to date browser (or turn off compatibility mode in Internet Explorer). In the meantime, to ensure continued support, we are displaying the site without styles and JavaScript.

Achieving a three-dimensional longevity dividend

Abstract

Improvements in life expectancy among high-income countries are increasingly occurring in later years. Efforts to exploit the malleability of age and the additional time longevity brings are already underway, but important roadblocks remain. This article discusses the socioeconomic concept of the longevity dividend, in which healthy and productive aging is achieved through a positive correlation between three dimensions: life expectancy, health and the economy. Investing in a longevity dividend is needed to offset the economic challenges of an aging society and embrace a new life course, but this requires deep-seated changes in individual behavior and corporate and government policies. Focusing on treatments that target delayed aging, supporting employment beyond 50 years of age and tackling ageism are key priorities.

Access options

Rent or Buy article

Get time limited or full article access on ReadCube.

from$8.99

All prices are NET prices.

Fig. 1: Best practice life expectancy 1870–2017.
Fig. 2: US survival, health and employment by age.
Fig. 3: Percentage of total employment increase (2008–2018) accounted for by individuals over 55 years of age.

References

  1. 1.

    Oeppen, J. & Vaupel, J. W. Broken limits to life expectancy. Science 296, 1029–1031 (2002).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  2. 2.

    Vaupel, J. W., Villavicencio, F. & Bergeron-Boucher, M.-P. Demographic perspectives on the rise of longevity. Proc. Natl Acad. Sci. USA 118, e2019536118 (2021).

  3. 3.

    Bloom, D. E. & Canning, D. The health and wealth of nations. Science 287, 1207–1209 (2000).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  4. 4.

    Deaton, A. The Great Escape: Health, Wealth and the Origins of Inequality (Princeton University Press, 2013).

  5. 5.

    Eggleston, K. & Fuchs, V. The new demographic transition: most gains in life expectancy now realised late in life. J. Econ. Perspect. 26, 137–156 (2012).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  6. 6.

    Olshansky, S. J., Perry, D., Miller, R. A. & Butler, R. N. Pursuing the longevity dividend: scientific goals for an aging world. Ann. NY Acad. Sci. 1114, 11–13 (2007).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  7. 7.

    Cooley, T. & Henriksen, E. The demographic deficit. J. Monetary Econ. 93, 45–62 (2018).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  8. 8.

    Aksoy, Y., Basson, H., Smith, R. & Grasi, T. Demographic structure and macroeconomic trends. Am. Econ. J. Macroecon. 11, 193–222 (2019).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  9. 9.

    Carvalho, C., Ferrero, A. & Nechio, F. Demographics and real interest rates: inspecting the mechanism. Eur. Econ. Rev. 88, 208–226 (2016).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  10. 10.

    Bloom, D. E., Chen, S., Kuhn, M. & Prettner, K. The flip side of ‘live long and prosper’: noncommunicable diseases in the OECD and their macroeconomic impact. in Live Long and Prosper? The Economics of Ageing Populations (ed. Bloom, D. E.) 44–52 (CEPR, 2019); https://voxeu.org/content/live-long-and-prosper-economics-ageing-populations

  11. 11.

    Bloom, D. E., Khoury, A., Algur, E. & Sevilla, J.-P. Valuing productive non-market activities of older adults in Europe and the US. Economist (Leiden) 168, 153–181 (2020).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  12. 12.

    Levine, M. E. & Crimmins, E. M. Is 60 the new 50?: examining changes in biological age over the past two decades. Demography 55, 387–402 (2018).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  13. 13.

    Abelianksy, A. L., Erel, D. & Strulik, H. Aging in the USA: similarities and disaparities across time and space. Sci. Rep. 10, 14309 (2020).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  14. 14.

    GBD 2019 Demographics Collaborators. Global age-sex-specific fertility, mortality, healthy life expectancy (HALE), and population estimates in 204 countries and territories, 1950–2019: a comprehensive demographic analysis for the Global Burden of Disease Study 2019. Lancet 396, 1160–1203 (2020).

  15. 15.

    Fries, J. Aging, natural death, and the compression of morbidity. N. Engl. J. Med. 303, 130–135 (1980).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  16. 16.

    Scott, A. J., Ellison, M. & Sinclair, D. A. The economic value of targeting aging. Nat. Aging https://doi.org/10.1038/s43587-021-00080-0 (2021).

  17. 17.

    Ekerdt, D. J. et al. Is longevity a value for older adults? J. Aging Stud. 43, 46–52 (2017).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  18. 18.

    Chetty, R. et al. The association between income and life expectancy in the United States, 2001–2014. JAMA 315, 1750–1766 (2016).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  19. 19.

    Case, A. & Deaton, A. Deaths of Despair and the Future of Capitalism (Princeton University Press, 2020).

  20. 20.

    Marmot, M. & Allen, J. J. Social determinants of health equity. Am. J. Public Health 104, S517–S519 (2014).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  21. 21.

    Crimmins, E. Lifespan and healthspan: past, present and promise. Gerentologist 55, 901–911 (2015).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  22. 22.

    Campisi, J. et al. From discoveries in aging research to therapeutics for healthy aging. Nature 571, 183–192 (2019).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  23. 23.

    Barzilai, N. Age Later : Healthspan, Lifespan and the New Science of Longevity (St Martins, 2020).

  24. 24.

    Sinclair, D. A. Lifespan: Why We Age and Why We Don’t Have To (Thorsons, 2019).

  25. 25.

    Goldman, D. P. et al. Substantial health and economic returns from delayed aging may warrant a new focus for medical research. Health Aff. 32, 1698–1705 (2013).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  26. 26.

    García, J.-L., Heckman, J. J., Leaf, D. E. & Prados, M.-J. Quantifying the life-cycle benefits of an influential early childhood program. J. Political Econ. 128, 2502–2541 (2020).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  27. 27.

    Geelhoed, E., George, P., Clark, K. & Strahan, K. Health population aging depends on investment in early childhood learning and development. in Live Long and Prosper? The Economics of Aging Populations (ed. Bloom, D. E.) 105–110 (VoxEU.org, 2019).

  28. 28.

    Gomez, L. E. & Benert, P. Diversity improves performance and outcomes. J. Natl Med. Assoc. 111, 383–392 (2019).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  29. 29.

    Heckman, J. J. The economics, technology and neuroscience of human capability formation. Proc. Natl Acad. Sci. USA 104, 13250–13255 (2007).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  30. 30.

    Coughlin, J. F. The Longevity Economy: Inside the World’s Fastest-Growing, Most Misunderstood Market (Public Affairs, 2017).

  31. 31.

    Zhavoronkov, A., Bischof, E. & Lee, K.-F. Artificial intelligence in longevity medicine. Nat. Aging 1, 5–7 (2021).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  32. 32.

    Scott, A. J. A longevity dividend versus an aging society. in Live Long and Prosper? The Economics of Aging Populations (ed. Bloom, D. E.) 81–91 (Voxeu.org, 2019).

  33. 33.

    Murphy, K. M. & Topel, R. H. The value of health and longevity. J. Political Econ. 114, 871–904 (2006).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  34. 34.

    Ben-Porath, Y. The production of human capital and the life cycle of earnings. J. Political Econ. 75, 352–365 (1967).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  35. 35.

    Soares, R. Mortality reductions, educational attainment and fertility choice. Am. Econ. Rev. 95, 580–601 (2005).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  36. 36.

    Kalemili-Ozcan, S. & Weil, D. N. Mortality change, the uncertainty effect and retirement. J. Econ. Growth 15, 65–91 (2010).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  37. 37.

    Prettner, K. & Canning, D. Increasing life expectancy and optimal retirement in general equilibrium. Econ. Theory 56, 217–243 (2014).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  38. 38.

    Dragone, D. & Strulik, H. Negligible senescence: an economic life cycle model for the future. J. Econ. Behav. Org. 171, 264–285 (2020).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  39. 39.

    Costa, D. The Evolution of Retirement: An American Economic History (University of Chicago Press, 1998).

  40. 40.

    Bloom, D. E., Canning, D. & Moore, M. Optimal retirement with increasing longevity. Scand. J. Econ. 116, 838–858 (2014).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  41. 41.

    Allen, S. G. Demand for older workers: what do economists think? What are firms doing? Discussion paper 26597 https://www.nber.org/system/files/working_papers/w26597/w26597.pdf (National Bureau of Economic Research, 2019).

  42. 42.

    Neumark, D., Burn, I. & Button, P. Is it harder for older workers to find jobs? New and improved evidence from a field experiment. J. Political Econ. 127, 922–970 (2019).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  43. 43.

    Conley, C. Wisdom@Work: The Making of a Modern Elder (Portfolio Penguin, 2018).

  44. 44.

    Suh, J. Y. Age discrimination in the workplace hurts us all. Nat. Aging 1, 147 (2021).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  45. 45.

    Acemoglu, D. & Restrepo, P. Demographics and automation. Rev. Econ. Studies (in the press).

  46. 46.

    Börsch-Supan, A. & Matthias, W. Productivity and age: evidence from work teams at the assembly line. J. Econ. Aging 7, 30–42 (2016).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  47. 47.

    Maestres, N., Mullen, K., Powell, D., Wachter, T. V. & Wenger, J. B. The value of working conditions in the United States and implications for the structure of wages. Working paper 25204 https://www.nber.org/system/files/working_papers/w25204/w25204.pdf (National Bureau of Economic Research, 2018).

  48. 48.

    Ameriks, J. et al. Older Americans would work longer if jobs were flexible. Am. Econ. J. Macroecon. 12, 174–209 (2020).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  49. 49.

    Laun, L. The effect of age-targeted tax credits on labor force participation of older workers. J. Public Econ. 152, 102–118 (2017).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  50. 50.

    Azoulay, P., Jones, B. F., Kim, J. D. & Miranda, J. Age and high-growth entrepreneurship. Am. Econ. Rev. Insights 2, 65–82 (2020).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  51. 51.

    Hazan, M. Longevity and lifetime labor supply: evidence and implications. Econometrica 77, 1829–1863 (2009).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  52. 52.

    Dede, C. & Richards, J. The 60 Year Curriculum: New Models for Lifelong Learning in the Digital Economy (Routledge, 2020).

  53. 53.

    Palladino, G. Teenagers: An American History (Basic Books, 1997).

  54. 54.

    Savage, J. Teenage: The Creation of Youth 1875–1945 (Pimlico Books, 2008).

  55. 55.

    Graebner, W. A History of Retirement: The Meaning and Function of an American Institution 1885–1978 (Yale University Press, 1980).

  56. 56.

    Macnicol, J. The Politics of Retirement in Britain 1878–1948 (Cambridge University Press, 1998).

  57. 57.

    Dixit, A. & Pindyck, R. Investment under Uncertainty (Princeton University Press, 1994).

  58. 58.

    Gratton, L. & Scott, A. The 100 Year Life—Living and Working in an Age of Longevity (Bloomsbury Press, 2016).

  59. 59.

    Gratton, L. & Scott, A. The corporate implications of longer lives. Sloan Management Review https://sloanreview.mit.edu/article/the-corporate-implications-of-longer-lives/ (1 March 2017).

  60. 60.

    Thomas, K. Age and authority in early modern england. Proc. Br. Acad. 62, 205–248 (1976).

    Google Scholar 

  61. 61.

    Horvath, S. DNA methylation age of human tissues and cell types. Genome Biol. 14, 3156 (2013).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  62. 62.

    Shoven, J. & Goda, G. S. Adjusting government policies for age inflation. in Demography and the Economy (ed. Shoven, J.) 143–168 (University of Chicago Press, 2011).

  63. 63.

    Sanderson, W. & Scherbov, S. Prospective Longevity—A New Vision of Population Aging (Harvard University Press, 2019).

Download references

Acknowledgements

Funding from ESRC research grant T002204 is gratefully acknowledged, as well as comments from M. Ellison, G. Mellior and D. Miles.

Author information

Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Andrew J. Scott.

Ethics declarations

Competing interests

A.J.S. is a cofounder of the Longevity Forum, an advisor to Genflow BioSciences, has acted as a consultant for GlaxoSmithKline and the United Nations on issues of longevity, and is a member of the World Economic Forum’s Healthy Ageing and Longevity Global Future Council.

Additional information

Peer review information Nature Aging thanks Joseph Coughlin and Linda Fried for their contribution to the peer review of this work.

Publisher’s note Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.

Source data

Source Data Fig. 1

Statistical source data.

Source Data Fig. 2

Statistical source data.

Source Data Fig. 3

Statistical source data.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Scott, A.J. Achieving a three-dimensional longevity dividend. Nat Aging 1, 500–505 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1038/s43587-021-00074-y

Download citation

Search

Quick links