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You’ve Come A Long Way Caveman: Researchers Say 72 Is The New 30
February 26, 2013
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People are living longer than ever, and our average longevity has increased a lot over the last century, according to a new research report.

Just how much longer are we living these days? Well, the report - by researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research in Germany - finds that life expectancy has risen faster since 1900 than in the 200 millennia that came before.

In fact, a person living in 1800 had an average lifespan closer to the earliest hunter-gatherers than to the life expectancy of a person today.

And a hunter-gatherer from our pre-history would have the same odds of dying at age 30, as a 72-year-old in Sweden or Japan (the two countries the study focused on) has today.

On a personal level, it's great news that many people are living longer than ever before. Knowing that many of those you love will likely be around into their 70s and 80s, and that you may see that age yourself, is comforting.


But the increase in longevity also means a lot of industrialized countries will have trouble providing for an increasingly aged population.

Think about this: the average life expectancy in Canada in 1960 was 68.26 years for men and 74.15 years for women, according to the World Bank. Retire at 65, and you'd only need to support yourself for a few more years.

Now, the picture looks different. The average life expectancy for Canadian men in 2010? 78.55 years. And women? 83.16 years. That's a whole lot of extra time that you've got to budget for.

Then, throw this into the mix: a report on jobs in the Toronto and Hamilton areas found that 40 per cent of adult workers in those two cities have so-called "precarious" jobs: temporary, part time or contract work.

Those jobs often don't provide benefits or a pension, not to mention the job security that comes with a full-time permanent one, making it more challenging for people to plan for a settled retirement.

Although that's just one area of the country, there does seem to be a trend Canada-wide toward temporary and part-time work and away from full-time employment.

In 2011, the number of people applying for Employment Insurance who last worked in a permanent, full-time job declined from 51 per cent to 45 per cent, according to Statistics Canada.

For those without secure, full-time employment and benefits, working out how to pay for what might be a longer retirement is a real challenge.


There's another side of the story, though: many older Canadians are staying in - or rejoining - the labour market.

The 2012 TD Economics Observation report, based on Statistics Canada data, found that since 2009 individuals aged 60 and older have accounted for about one-third of all net new job gains, the Toronto Star reports.

And the trend isn't just among Canadians aged 60-65. A lot of people over 70 are getting into the job market as well. In fact, employment for those individuals has increased 37 per cent since 2009.

Many seniors with new jobs are getting into retail, but there are also job gains in technical, scientific and professional services, as well as health care.

So maybe living longer is going to mean retiring later for some of us. That might not be such a bad thing, as long as you like what you're doing.

Whatever age you are, this might be a good time to start thinking about what you're going to do with the extra years you're likely to get. After all, as Theodore Roosevelt said, "old age is like everything else. To make a success of it, you've got to start young."

Via Business Insider


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