The Silver Economy Powers Economic Growth and Healthy Aging

As we ring in 2023, the Global Coalition on Aging recalls four game changers for our global aging society during the seminal healthy aging year of 2022.

One side is labeled 20th Century and shows a street sign that reads "Elderly People" with two figures walking hunched over with a cane. The other side, labeled 21st century, shows and older man and woman on a run on a trail.

1. The Japanese government – with average longevity reaching 85 this year and, more notably, tilting rapidly towards 40% of its population being over 60 by the end of the decade – recognized the central need for healthcare policy change focusing on reimbursement and access for fragility fracture rehabilitation to avoid or mitigate the effect of a second fracture.  Through insurance reforms effective  April 22, “Evaluation for Continuous Secondary Fracture Prevention” and “Addition to Emergency Recovery and Fixation within 48 hours” for hip fracture…”, the Japanese government took a seminal step recognizing the huge impact of fragility fractures as a result of osteoporosis and bone health deterioration. Globally, these fractures have had some of the most devastating effects on healthy aging, too often missed, under-recognized and/or left to lower level attention.  Reflecting this Japanese leadership, two powerful new papers are now available on the Decade of Healthy Ageing WHO Web Platform. Globally, we know up to 80% of those considered high risk who have already  suffered their first fracture, are unidentified or untreated leading to worse outcomes; so,  in 2022 the Japanese government paved the way to reforms for all of us.   Within the UN  Decade of Healthy Ageing, Japan’s leadership in ’22 will become a milestone for similar policy changes across the globe, where spending on rehabilitation after the first fracture is seen as an investment in healthy aging and more effective cost management.

2. Learning from Covid and the fundamentally essential need for health innovation during 2022, the world also saw the launch of a new kind of Health Innovation Alliance built on the principles of equity and healthy aging,

“Today, our world faces an urgent challenge – providing quality care to the rapidly growing population of older adults. The COVID-19 pandemic, like the HIV epidemic, highlight the seriousness of existing gaps in systems and programs. Government policies that enable patients to access the best care and most effective life-changing medicines are critically important in protecting against disparities related to aging and longevity,” said Rekha Ramesh, Vice President, Head of Global Policy at Gilead Sciences, Inc., a founding member of the Alliance. “At Gilead, it is our mission to deliver innovative therapies that positively impact outcomes for patients everywhere, and we are proud to join members of the Alliance in helping inform policy solutions – [ strong and powerful intellectual property rights and adequate, market/value based access and reimbursement policies] — to ensure those who need our therapies receive them in support of healthy aging.”

This new healthy aging innovation paradigm is applicable to the most profound needs of our time – from Alzheimer’s and Cancer to HIV and CVD.  Moreover, the world also saw considerable progress in 2022 on the health innovation front related to the urgency of AMR impact on antibiotic innovation  as a top G7 priority.  Surely, in the second year of the Decade of Healthy Ageing it was not surprising that two of the most instrumental drivers for our 20th century longevity revolution – antibiotics and immunization played significant roles. The latter being an indicator  of the increasing recognition that it is a prevention model for health systems  that will enable more effective budget management and healthier aging further shows the growth already underway.

3. Nor was it a small matter when, in early ’22, the American Society on Aging (ASA) joined up with Shutterstock to show the way toward the UN Decade of Healthy Aging Combatting Ageism seminal goal.   ASA and Shutterstock launched their initiative to guide advertisers, marketing executives, Diversity Equity and Inclusion Human Resource gurus, and the rest of us to reframe and reimagine  21st century aging.    It was also not  coincidental that during this years’ recognition of the 8th billion person being born, the notable Financial Times literally shifted the story from one about population growth to population aging

“Ageing, not population growth, is the most important demographic change of this century… Ageing is a major challenge for societies and economies because it adds strain on fiscal revenues and healthcare spending. The number of people aged 80, those more closely associated with health problems, rose to more than 150mn this year. This is more than double the figure 20 years ago. In response to this, many countries have started increasing the state retirement age from 65. Without further policy action… the declining share of the working age population in advanced economies is expected to drag down growth and living standards… nations’ healthcare systems also need to shift focus to earlier detection and prevention or we won’t be able to afford anything.”

4. From the OECD to major societies such as Canada and GCOA’s own Silver Economy Forum,  efforts to elevate elder caregiving continued to make progress in 2022.  But it wasn’t until the very end of ’22, when, in a little recognized piece on the Biden Administration’s “aim to boost workforce”, that elder caregiving appeared alongside conventional childcare “Top White House economic officials are considering a renewed push for a suite of policies aimed at luring more Americans back to work, including enhanced child-care and eldercare benefits…” began the article.  Encouraged by government consideration, employers can now, in ’23, underscore that mid-life to older workers are an increasing factor in employment growth and if you want to retain or hire new workers, you’d better consider the value of the elder care benefit.  This is new but should not be surprising in our second full year of The UN Decade of Healthy Ageing.

Progress on healthy aging was surely a hallmark of 2022.   Our guess is  that we are just getting started as the UN Decade of Healthy Ageing rolls to 2030, when more of us will be over 60 than under 15 and the transformation of  work and retirement will be even more clear across the generations.  In ’22 it was even more solidly pronounced that the Silver Economy powers overall economic growth, job creation and more  stable political systems.  What a great year for healthy aging.  And now ringing in 2023!


Latest Developments

We keep our members and partners in touch with the most recent updates and opinions in the worldwide dialogue on population longevity and related issues.

What Old Age Might Be Like for Today’s 30-Year-Olds

Get ready for a new old age. With the U.S. fertility rate in a decadelong slump and the life expectancy of 65-year-old Americans approaching roughly 85, our aging nation is likely to grow older by midcentury, as the ratio of young to old continues to decline. The trend is likely to upend how our society is organized, making life very different for today’s 30-year-olds when they reach their 60s compared with life for 60-year-olds now.

World Population Reaches 8bn As It Grows Older

The world’s population reached 8bn people on Tuesday and will hit 9bn in 15 years as it experiences an unprecedented surge in the number of older people, according to the latest UN data. The global fertility rate has more than halved since the 1950s to 2.3 births per woman. With mortality also falling, the number of people aged 65 and over is expected to rise from 783mn in 2022 to 1bn by 2030 and reach 1.4bn by 2043, the UN population data revealed.

Global Coalition on Aging (GCOA) Launches Cross-Sector Alliance Committed to Health Innovation at High-Level Forum on The Silver Economy

Today, the Global Coalition on Aging (GCOA), along with cross-sector stakeholders representing patient advocacy, policy, industry, and academic communities, announced the launch of the Alliance for Health Innovation at the High-Level Forum on the Silver Economy in New York. The Alliance is dedicated to establishing the importance of innovation in achieving healthy aging and health equity through investments, policy reforms, and strategic partnerships.

Japan Must Face Up to Growing Danger of Drug-resistant Germs

In the wake of more than 6.4 million COVID-19 deaths worldwide and unprecedented economic destruction, the global community has no excuse to be caught unprepared for the next pandemic. Yet right now, a devastating parallel plague is already underway and worsening. Some years, it is killing well over 1 million people, according to medical journal The Lancet.

A Bipartisan Bill Could Prevent The Next Pandemic

In Washington, Republicans and Democrats are typically at loggerheads when it comes to healthcare policy. Just consider the recent Inflation Reduction Act, which made extensive changes to Medicare and also extended Affordable Care Act subsidies. Every single congressional Democrat voted for the legislation, while every single member of the GOP voted against it. But occasionally, a bill is such an obviously good idea, and so desperately needed, that it commands significant bipartisan support. The PASTEUR Act, co-sponsored by 31 Democrats and 31 Republicans in the House and two members of each party in the Senate, is just such a bill.

Korea Must Act Now to Combat Growing AMR Threat

Public officials are overlooking one of the gravest long-term threats to the Korean people, the health system, and economy: antimicrobial resistance (AMR). Some pathogens ― bacteria, fungi, parasites, and viruses ― have evolved strains that resist the antimicrobial medications we currently have available to fight them. Health care professionals often must watch helplessly as patients succumb to infections that antibiotics could once have easily beaten. They know that new antimicrobials, including and especially antibiotics, could easily gain the victory ― but they have none at their disposal.

Policy Statement on the Impact of Price Negotiations on Innovation, Healthy Aging and Equity

As the CEO of the Global Coalition on Aging (GCOA) and a newly formed cross-sector Alliance for Health Innovation, we write to express our deep concern with the current legislation that allows for price “negotiations” in Medicare – a thinly veiled signal for America’s plunge into price controls that will have a devastating and adverse impact on biopharmaceutical innovation and our nations’ ability to support healthy aging.