Register For Our Mailing List

Register to receive our free weekly newsletter including editorials.

Home / 454

Why Australia is crying out for a National Longevity Strategy

Definition: A person’s longevity is ‘the rest of their life’.

Why ‘longevity’

Longevity is a holistic term covering the ‘time base for everything’ in a person’s life.

Most of the terms we associate with increasing lifespans have negative connotations. Consider ageing, retirement, age pension, aged care, age discrimination, home care, seniors, frailty, superannuation and end of life. While each has a specific relevance, a term to cover all of them frees us to envisage the whole framework – the good and the challenges - before focusing on the parts.

The definition starts with the person. We become more different from each other over time. Our own remaining time frame is unique. By just focusing on ‘community’ longevity, we lose sight of how different we are and how differently we respond.

A National Longevity Strategy will focus on maximising the social and financial benefits from:

  • understanding and supporting individuals from midlife in making the best of the rest of their own life through raising their personal longevity awareness
  • development of a longevity aware and proactive community
  • harmonising the activities of government entities involved in longevity support

Where we are

At the end of 2021, there were 4.3 million Australians over the age of 65, about 16% of the population. The five-year cohorts over 65 are the fastest growing across the whole population, averaging 3.5% last year. No other cohort grew faster than 2.5%.

A huge longevity bonus accompanies this growth. Average life expectancies continue to increase. Half the oldest baby boomers alive today (75) are likely to live at least 30% beyond their life expectancy at birth and beyond 90.

However, the longevity bonus is petering out beyond 90, where successive cohorts are living less long than their predecessors. We face an increasing logjam of older Australians – most of whom will still live much longer than was expected when they were born but with more requiring support.

The crisis in aged care remains unresolved, creating major uncertainties in the older community about their future. The pension system encourages people to ‘retire’ at age 67 when at least half achieving this age will live close to their 90s, most independently. While community unemployment is reaching historically low levels, seniors’ employment is not increasing with the demographics.

Large sums are spent on research into better medical treatments for older Australians, yet very little on prevention. Health professionals struggle to reach beyond immediate patient issues to achieve effective preventive health and wellbeing support. The hospital system is fully stretched with little prospect of relief, even after the pandemic, as the ageing demographic grows.

Investment products and services are increasingly complex. Advisers are required to provide expensive and detailed assessments which are becoming even less accessible to many consumers. The Australian Law Reform Commission recently strongly criticised this trend.

Gender imbalance is a distinctive feature of increasing longevity. Women live longer and typically with longer dependency in later life. Women are usually the caregivers and outlive their partners, with less likelihood of personal care themselves. Women are less likely to accumulate superannuation, constrained by rearing children and fewer employment opportunities.

Ethnic inequalities are typified by the shorter total and healthy lifespans of these minorities. A National Longevity Strategy would clarify and provide consistent solutions to many of the challenges.

Consumer groups like COTA and National Seniors make a major contribution but need more support.

Where we could be

We face an increasing challenge of dealing with larger and less healthy numbers of people in their late 80s and early 90s. However, social and medical research is revealing how existing services, products and facilities could be much better harmonised to improve their delivery to the older demographic and reduce the cost.

Longevity research is moving very quickly to understand much more about ageing. It’s increasingly likely we will see real solutions to considerably extend lifespans and quality of life at greater ages. If this happens, it will change the paradigm of ageing on which current responses are based.

Both these opportunities require better oversight and major improvements in how well and how quickly we address increasing longevity in the community, and personally.

National Longevity Strategy

A National Longevity Strategy is urgently needed to effectively deal with the growing challenges and opportunities of increasing personal and community longevity, with bipartisan support.

Separate silos of interest (both in government and in the private sector) have grown strongly to deal with this phenomenon but can work together much more effectively. A National Longevity Strategy will harness all available capabilities and financial resources to make the most of the remarkable community and personal longevity bonus. It will underpin major savings.

To achieve this, the Strategy will draw on and provide oversight and guidance for the activities of:

  • Treasury (demographics, superannuation, tax, financial advice)
  • Social services (age pension, home equity release, disability)
  • Employment (age discrimination, retraining)
  • Health (including doctors, other health providers, health funds and researchers)
  • Aged care
  • The financial planning and legal professions
  • Federal and State governments
  • Superannuation funds and other financial product providers

A primary focus will be on improving longevity awareness of individuals from 60 years of age, along with improving the understanding and support of their health and financial advisers.

As a society, we are responsible for the remarkable longevity phenomenon. A National Longevity Strategy will focus Australians on making the best of it in every way.

 

David Williams is Founder and CEO of My Longevity. Try the SHAPE Analyser to focus on your own longevity.

 

4 Comments
Dudley
April 22, 2022

Australia's longevity strategy is Age Pension and Home Ownership (Capital Gains Tax free offsetting mortgage cost not being tax deductible).

Does not work so well for non-home owners due to smallest interest rates in all of known history increasing home prices faster than a lot can save and causing de-compounding of savings due to negative real interest.

Murray McLean
April 17, 2022

Trevor is right to raise the importance of fair treatment of those affected by disability. However I can’t see that anything David Williams has outlined suggests otherwise and commend his proposal. It is not an ‘either/or’ situation. Both need far more bipartisan, strategic attention.

Trevor
April 17, 2022

Hi Murray McLean : As you know , the moderator often "lends a hand" to the comments "one" submits . And in this case, my main contention was completely omitted : "Australia has so many elderly people because "we" have been very fortunate in not being involved in a major war for the last 70 to 80 years" Had "we" lost many young and fit people in a major war then "the longevity" ratio would be totally different! Every factor would have been different and less favourable than it is now. "We" are all appreciative of the increase in "longevity" and it is no hardship ! And as for the successful management : "We are already achieving it, bumbling along with political bipartisan support, guided by our sense of fair play and decency." QED.

Trevor
April 14, 2022

Sorry David.....you make statements peppered with "facts" that simply don't stack up ! You say : "At the end of 2021, there were 4.3 million Australians over the age of 65, about 16% of the population. The five-year cohorts over 65 are the fastest growing across the whole population, averaging 3.5% last year. No other cohort grew faster than 2.5%." Actually : "Around 1 in 6 (18%) people in Australia—or about 4.4 million—have disability. This is also known as 'disability prevalence'. Another 22% of people in Australia have a long-term health condition but no disability, and the remaining 60% have no disability or long-term health condition (ABS 2019a)." And : "Over 4.4 million people in Australia have some form of disability. That's 1 in 5 people. 17.8% of females and 17.6% of males in Australia have disability." And: "Of the more than 750,000 people on the disability support pension, 3 per cent are able to leave the system to return to the workforce." And: " In April 2021, approximately 619,000 older Australians (aged 65 and over) were employed in the labour force. Of these older workers, 3 in 5 (61%) were men and 2 in 5 were women (39%) (ABS 2021b)" And: "The largest payment is the Age Pension, which around two million older Australians receive, followed by the Disability Support Pension, with more than 700,000 recipients. While 3.5 million people receive payments classified as pensions, one million receive payments classified as allowances." "1.05 million people received DSP or Carer Payment in Australia, equating to 5.1% of the population aged 16 and over". "There are more than 2.65 million carers in Australia, which means about 1 in 11 people in Australia are carers." So......a combination of "disabled people and their carers" far outnumber the "aged pensioners" that dominate your line of thinking. "We have created and maintain this wonderful dynamic and philanthropic and caring society that "takes care of everyone in need"......well.....most of them anyway! As I see it , your claim that "A National Longevity Strategy is urgently needed to effectively deal with the growing challenges and opportunities of increasing personal and community longevity,..." is not factual or required. We are already achieving it, bumbling along with political bipartisan support, guided by our sense of fair play and decency.

 

Leave a Comment:

     

RELATED ARTICLES

Three demographic themes shaping investments for the future

How the Intergenerational Report misleads on super

Demographic destiny: a snapshot of Australia in 40 years

banner

Most viewed in recent weeks

Is it better to rent or own a home under the age pension?

With 62% of Australians aged 65 and over relying at least partially on the age pension, are they better off owning their home or renting? There is an extra pension asset allowance for those not owning a home.

Too many retirees miss out on this valuable super fund benefit

With 700 Australians retiring every day, retirement income solutions are more important than ever. Why do millions of retirees eligible for a more tax-efficient pension account hold money in accumulation?

Is the fossil fuel narrative simply too convenient?

A fund manager argues it is immoral to deny poor countries access to relatively cheap energy from fossil fuels. Wealthy countries must recognise the transition is a multi-decade challenge and continue to invest.

Reece Birtles on selecting stocks for income in retirement

Equity investing comes with volatility that makes many retirees uncomfortable. A focus on income which is less volatile than share prices, and quality companies delivering robust earnings, offers more reassurance.

Welcome to Firstlinks Election Edition 458

At around 10.30pm on Saturday night, Scott Morrison called Anthony Albanese to concede defeat in the 2022 election. As voting continued the next day, it became likely that Labor would reach the magic number of 76 seats to form a majority government.   

  • 19 May 2022

Comparing generations and the nine dimensions of our well-being

Using the nine dimensions of well-being used by the OECD, and dividing Australians into Baby Boomers, Generation Xers or Millennials, it is surprisingly easy to identify the winners and losers for most dimensions.

Latest Updates

SMSF strategies

30 years on, five charts show SMSF progress

On 1 July 1992, the Superannuation Guarantee created mandatory 3% contributions into super for employees. SMSFs were an after-thought but they are now the second-largest segment. How have they changed?

Investment strategies

Anton in 2006 v 2022, it's deja vu (all over again)

What was bothering markets in 2006? Try the end of cheap money, bond yields rising, high energy prices and record high commodity prices feeding inflation. Who says these are 'unprecedented' times? It's 2006 v 2022.

Taxation

Tips and traps: a final check for your tax return this year

The end of the 2022 financial year is fast approaching and there are choices available to ensure you pay the right amount of tax. Watch for some pandemic-related changes worth understanding.

Financial planning

Is it better to rent or own a home under the age pension?

With 62% of Australians aged 65 and over relying at least partially on the age pension, are they better off owning their home or renting? There is an extra pension asset allowance for those not owning a home.

Infrastructure

Listed infrastructure: finding a port in a storm of rising prices

Given the current environment it’s easy to wonder if there are any safe ports in the investment storm. Investments in infrastructure assets show their worth in such times.

Financial planning

Power of attorney: six things you need to know

Whether you are appointing an attorney or have been appointed as an attorney, the full extent of this legal framework should be understood as more people will need to act in this capacity in future.

Interest rates

Rising interest rates and the impact on banks

One of the major questions confronting investors is the portfolio weighting towards Australian banks in an environment of rising rates. Do the recent price falls represent value or are too many bad debts coming?

Sponsors

Alliances

© 2022 Morningstar, Inc. All rights reserved.

Disclaimer
The data, research and opinions provided here are for information purposes; are not an offer to buy or sell a security; and are not warranted to be correct, complete or accurate. Morningstar, its affiliates, and third-party content providers are not responsible for any investment decisions, damages or losses resulting from, or related to, the data and analyses or their use. Any general advice or ‘regulated financial advice’ under New Zealand law has been prepared by Morningstar Australasia Pty Ltd (ABN: 95 090 665 544, AFSL: 240892) and/or Morningstar Research Ltd, subsidiaries of Morningstar, Inc, without reference to your objectives, financial situation or needs. For more information refer to our Financial Services Guide (AU) and Financial Advice Provider Disclosure Statement (NZ). You should consider the advice in light of these matters and if applicable, the relevant Product Disclosure Statement before making any decision to invest. Past performance does not necessarily indicate a financial product’s future performance. To obtain advice tailored to your situation, contact a professional financial adviser. Articles are current as at date of publication.
This website contains information and opinions provided by third parties. Inclusion of this information does not necessarily represent Morningstar’s positions, strategies or opinions and should not be considered an endorsement by Morningstar.

Website Development by Master Publisher.