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14 January 2022

Longevity, The art of knowing how to age

Author: Luigi Campopiano

In the year of accelerated innovation, industry 4.0, the small technological revolution in everyone's homes, the triumph of the internet and video calls, e-commerce, and the vaccine developed in six months, a large part of the world government is entrusted to people born "geological eras" ago. While strategists from all sectors publish papers on how to win over young people, the world is heading towards a "longevity economy": an economy that is represented and at the service of an increasingly mature world population. The generation of baby boomers is the one that has lived and has been able to adapt to more eras, always remaining involved and co-protagonist and now also faces the longevity revolution.

Too bad that aging is considered by many to be a scourge of the world: aging has its contraindications, but also many positive and interesting traits (such as the sustainability of the planet). The lengthening of life produces very other changes for generations and individuals, such as individual productivity, which, in an extended life perspective, increases and not a little: Andrew Scott, professor of economics at the London School of Economics, in his book on the effects of aging (100 Years Life, Bloomsbury, 2016) states that the productive life of a person living to 100 years almost doubles that of someone living to 70. Also, living longer requires more resources, and this involves profound changes to the classic "life cycle" model studied by Modigliani in the 1950s (during active life, we move on consumption and saving cycle that sees a long accumulation phase; in retirement age, it follows a decumulation phase, to maintain their lifestyle). In the world of longevity, not only is the cycle of decumulation moved forward, but it is transformed into a series of staggered cycles of accumulation and partial decumulation. This greater complexity makes today's mature generations more sensitive to long-term thinking than younger generations (the sensitivity of the mature population towards future planning is often higher than that of the younger population). A medium to long-term thinking more widespread among the mature population also changes the classic paradigm of asset allocation, which should align itself with the alternating cycles of the new longevity, serving long-term needs (retirement), and investment/decumulation needs.

After all, longevity puts generations more in parallel, makes them share more land, and potentially makes the intergenerational exchange more fruitful (today, there are fewer cultural references between generations). This makes a closer interaction between generations advisable, even in managing family assets (any generational transitions can be thought of as medium-long term processes). It is appropriate to train children in managing family money while controlling the evolution of their skills and, at the same time, inducing families to new forms of intergenerational support. The gaze of planning begins to look beyond the children, towards the support of the grandchildren. It is a generational leap and a return to the construction and defense of a family heritage that transcends individual generations. Longevity takes us back to the ancient but in an extremely modern form.

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