Learning to live longer…

So, I was reading in a recent issue of the Economist about the increasing average age of people in the world.

The first fact is that women live longer than men, on an average. This is largely because more men work for a livelihood than women. In manual work, there is the physical stress on the body and hence the shorter life than those of women. As more jobs moved from manufacturing into services, gap between average age of women and men has reduced over the years. Of course, there is stress in white-collar jobs also, but then nothing like loading and unloading of a truck, correct ? The gap reducing between the two genders is also because of more women taking up full-time jobs, especially in the developing countries.  The last reason contributing to the decreasing gap of ages of men and women is the reduction in %age of men who smoke. This is a world-wide trend and is easily proven to increasing age of men.

The second fact is that richer people tend to live longer than poorer people. This is again caused by two reasons : The access to high-class medical facilities is better for rich people than poor people. And the lifestyle of poor classes is riskier – %age of poor smoking is higher than the rich smoking; poorer sections are also found to drink excessively and eat harmful food, much more than richer classes.

The gap between average age of rich and poor class has increased by five years in USA in the last 30-40 years; that in the UK by one year. Access to National Govt Health scheme in UK is much more available to all people there, than in the USA, clearly showing medical care access to be a key factor in improving average age of poorer sections.

Coming to India, Indians are living 8 years longer than what we were just 20-25 years back. This is an astounding progress of health-care, both for reducing death at child-birth and for elongating life of older people. Again, men live for 63 years and women live for 66 years, for same reasons as mentioned above for the world.

A fall-out of all of the above is that we all should start preparing for a longer life, inshallah. Accidents apart (which again are more in developing countries and in poorer sections as compared to those in developed countries and in richer sections), chances are that we all should prepare for a longer post-retirement lives. Retirement itself should go from 60 to 70 years very soon. Therefore, one should be ready for a 45-50 year corporate career and hence easily 3-4 good stints of 10-15 years each. Possibly the last 10-15 year stint could be in a different career, something which one should start planning for well in advance – could be writing a book, teaching, being a travel guide, opening a restaurant/cafe, etc..

Most of the above is good news for most of us…something to cheer about in the current environment of doom and gloom…

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