Will our growing aging population hurt America’s economic competitiveness? A group of researchers believe it will actually help. Here’s a story from The Washington Post that takes a closer look.
One undeniable fact is once Baby Boomers start retiring, America is going to lose a large part of our workforce. But in a paper recently published by the journal PLOS ONE, a group of researchers believe having a larger aging population could be to our advantage.
Here are six reasons why:
1. More people will have time to innovate
Think about the innovation potential of the tens of millions of retiring Baby Boomers. They are relatively healthy, educated and financially secure and now have the leisure time to tinker and innovate.
2. The education level of our workforce will increase
An overall increase in education level will offset the loss in our labor force. “Think of America’s future workforce in terms of a smaller pool of highly productive workers rather than a shrinking pool of average productivity workers,” writes Dominic Basulto of The Washington Post.
3. More people will be healthier, greener and more productive
“Think of this demographic shift as a net gain of people who are healthier, greener and more productive,” writes Basulto. “These people will care more about innovations in areas ranging from health care (since they are living longer) to renewable energy (since they will be consuming fewer energy-intensive goods.”
4. There will be more “encore entrepreneurs”
The AARP and the Small Business Association (SBA) recently promoted the idea that “encore entrepreneurs” older than 50 might be an unexpected source of innovation activity for the American economy. “Many new entrepreneurs are saving their best acts for their encore performance,” said SBA Administrator Karen Mills. “They’re using their decades of expertise and their contacts to start new businesses and to finally pursue that venture that has been stirring their dreams for all these years.”
5. Retired Boomers will fund late stage Venture Capital financing
A renewed focus on encore entrepreneurs might lead to a boost in late-stage venture financing. “With all that extra leisure time on their hands, Baby Boomers might decide to launch new ventures in fields that help them lead better, more productive lives as they age,” writes Basulto. “Who says you can’t launch a new venture at age 65? Or become an angel investor in a new start-up at age 80?”
6. America will be forced to create innovations for an aging society
A larger aging population will force us to develop the kind of innovations that cater to their needs. “We need to focus on the quality of life of elderly people and that’s going to require big changes,” writes Basulto. “Perhaps states like Florida with a high concentration of retirees may one day become a hub for the development of technologies devoted to aging Americans.”
Read the story here.