Today is a day for celebration, as it marks the day that the average Western BabyBoomer, born in 1958, will join the New Old 55+ generation! This is a truly remarkable moment. Even 100 years ago, as the chart above shows, this generation simply didn’t exist.
Western life expectancy (green column) was just 46 years in 1900, and in in developing countries (red) it was only 26 years; the global average (blue) was only 31 years.
Today it is ~80 years in the West, and ~70 years in developing countries.
The chemicals industry-inspired developments that are largely responsible for these historic advances. As Life magazine declared in 1997, “the filtration of drinking water plus the use of chlorine is probably the most significant public health advancement of the millennium”.
Plus there have been vaccines and medicines, plastics to protect food, improved seeds to boost crop yields and many others.
Today’s ageing population poses real challenges for companies looking to sustain future growth. Key is the fact that longer life expectancy means slower GDP growth.
The New Old are already a record 29% of the Western population and are the only growth sector, with their numbers forecast to rise 34% to 364 million by 2030.
Older people spend less because they mainly buy replacement products. Such purchases can easily be postponed or not purchased at all if money gets tight.
The younger generation is 16% smaller, so cannot compensate for their parents’ slowdown.
Household consumption is 60% of Western GDP, so today’s L-shaped economic recovery will likely continue for many years.
But it would be entirely wrong to describe this outcome as representing ‘lost decades’. No Boomer, faced with the wonderful bonus of extra life, would dream of describing it this way.
International e-chem, the UK-based chemicals company headed by fellow blogger Paul Hodges, publishes a research note today on the subject. This includes a case study describing how a new mindset, focused on the future, could start to reinvigorate today’s struggling retail sector and improve the quality of life in local communities.
Any company selling into the consumer market either directly or indirectly will hopefully find the note helpful. Please click here to download a free copy.