Thursday, December 1, 2022

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Investing In Health Could Be Key to Tackling Great Resignation, Argues New Report

A new report published today highlights that investing in preventative health measures will be crucial to support people to stay in and return to the workforce following the pandemic.

A new report published by the International Longevity Centre UK (ILC-UK) today finds that the US economy is increasingly reliant on older workers, volunteers, caregivers, and spenders. And if the Government and employers fail to create an attractive offer for workers of all ages, they will pay the price.

The report highlights that 1 in 3 workers in the labor market is aged 50+ (34% of the workforce) and this could rise to 42% of the workforce by 2035, with the proper support and incentives. In 2018, workers aged 50 and over generated nearly 2 in every 5 dollars earned in the US economy, accounting for around 15% of GDP.

If the employment of people aged 50+ could be raised to the levels seen in Iceland, the US could see a 4% GDP gain ($703 billion) – that’s more than the US currently spends on defense.

The report, published as part of a wider global series, shows that American seniors are also spending more and accounting for a growing share of the consumer market. Spending by older households (those led by people aged 50 and over) in the US averaged 20% of GDP in 2015, on aggregate amounting to $3.6 trillion – more than the GDP of Germany.

And seniors’ unpaid contributions, such as caregiving, volunteering, and looking after grandchildren, significantly boost the economy. In the US, people aged 65+ spend (on average) 10 more hours caring for loved ones in their household than people at other ages. And if remunerated, volunteering by people aged 50+ in the US would account for nearly $60 billion annually.

However, ILC-UK – part of a global consortium of organizations on longevity, including ILC-US – warns that these contributions could be much higher if avoidable barriers to working and spending were overcome. To combat the growing numbers of people leaving the workforce and aid the post-pandemic recovery, the report argues a key driver is investing in health.

In comparing the world’s largest economies, the “Health equals wealth” report finds that in G20 countries that spend more on health, older people work more, spend more and volunteer more. Indeed, increasing preventative health spending by just 0.1 percentage points is associated with a 9% increase in annual spending by people aged 60 and over and ten more volunteer hours for each person aged 65 or over.

ILC-UK, the UK’s specialist think tank on the impact of longevity on society, calls on the government to increase spending on preventative health interventions like vaccinations, screenings, early detection and management of disease, alongside greater support for older people’s paid and unpaid contributions.

David Sinclair, Chief Executive of ILC-UK, argued:

“The Great Resignation is not purely a result of the pandemic. Countries have long failed to adequately respond and adapt to an aging workforce.”

“As people live and work for longer, the Government will have to innovate and think about how to foster health and wellbeing, flexibility, and skills to create a workplace that works for the future. If we continue with business-as-usual, we will see huge shortfalls hitting all sectors of the economy. Building back better means bringing people of all ages with us.”

“The COVID-19 pandemic has created an exceptional opportunity for the Government to prioritize health and act further to support older people. Amidst the devastation it has caused, it has shown us how our economies are linked to health and exposed the dangers of under-investing in prevention. Let’s use this shift in mindset to commit the funds today that we’ll need to realize a longevity dividend tomorrow.”

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