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Calls for better cooperation on longevity challenges

Calls for better cooperation on longevity challenges

Global governments have been urged to work together to tackle longevity and demographic issues by a group of policy makers.

Policy-makers, business leaders and experts on ageing, due to speak at the International Longevity Centre UK’s Future of Ageing Conference yesterday (November 29), said governments had to ensure older workers were not left behind when it came to opportunities to work.

They said increasing numbers of older women and men were having to work but governments were not doing enough to make the most of the 'longevity dividend'.

ILC research had shown an ageing society doesn’t need to be a drain on economic growth, as with rising life expectancy, output per hour per worker and per capita increases, raising workforce productivity.

The research showed in the UK alone, more than a million people aged between 50 and state pension age left the workforce involuntarily, as a result of age-related bias and poor understanding among employers of the needs of older workers.

Baroness Sally Greengross OBE, chief executive officer of ILC-UK, said: "Not enough is being done to recognise the valuable impact older people have and can have on society. Growing inequalities between and within nations are leading to unequal health and welfare outcomes." 

She said there should be more support for older people, including improved and fairer access to healthcare, opportunities for flexible working and lifelong learning to allow all members of the global community to make the most of the benefits longevity can bring.

She added: "Growing inequalities between and within nations are leading to unequal health and welfare outcomes."

Secretary of State for International Development Penny Mordaunt agreed and said "around the world, people are living longer, and this should be celebrated. But too often, older people in poor countries are being left behind in development work. We will continue working with the international community to ensure that no one is left behind."

Chris Roles, managing director of Age International, said in developing countries and wealthier countries alike, older people could face a challenging future of age discrimination, poor health, poverty and inequality without appropriate government policies.

Alexandre Kalache, co-president of the ILC Global Alliance and president of ILC Brazil, added he believes inequalities are on the increase.

This was particularly worrying in developing countries where the rich are living longer, while the poor are not necessarily doing so, he said.

He said: "In some countries, over the last three or four years, life expectancy at birth has been decreasing, thus reversing secular trends.

"Inequalities kill and lead to premature ageing: those at the bottom of the socio-economic scale are experiencing chronic diseases twenty, thirty years before their more privileged peers. The implications for their families can be catastrophic in the absence of community care services to support them."

Venilia Batista Amorim is a freelance writer for FTAdviser

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