Should we fear death or longevity?

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With better healthcare and medical breakthroughs, the life expectancy for humans has almost doubled over the last 60 years. But what does that financially mean, and can it spell disaster for governments with ageing populations?

According to Chinese tradition, longevity is one of the three important blessings in life, alongside prosperity and happiness. But while longevity is good on an individual basis, the collective effect of achieving longevity can be quite alarming. Can we afford retirement if we live much longer than previously thought?

Life expectancy at birth has been steadily increasing, rising from a global average of 48 years old in 1950 to 60 in 1980 and close to 70 by 2010. This increase has been particularly marked in less and least developed countries, mainly due to a decline in infant mortality rates. Life expectancy at birth is most often used to discuss longevity. However, this is somewhat inaccurate as what really matters is life expectancy at pensionable age – the measure relevant to quantifying longevity risk.


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