Not so long ago, everyone’s life followed a set pattern: education, work, retirement. Your expected longevity was not a 100-year life, it was ‘three-score years and ten’. Once you retired you had five or six years on average before you gave up the ghost. The population was growing so there was a never-ending supply of young people funding your pension payments with their NI contributions.
Not any more.
Like all pyramid schemes, this has become unsustainable. With a shrinking population and a 100-year life expectancy for millennials, life will have to change.
It’s not all bad news
In their book, Lynda Gratton and Andrew Scott explore different ways of living, focussing very much on the positive. They show scenarios of how your life might pan out by living it differently from the way most of us do now. You can see by looking at young people that changes have already started to take place (for example, the education and exploration stage of life has already elongated for them).
A book for all age groups
It’s a great book to read, whatever your age, though I suspect younger members of the population will be busy living their lives, rather than planning them. There are sobering moments for those of us over 60 but lots of food for thought as to how to alleviate these possible pitfalls. I wish it had been written 15 years ago, I could definitely have benefitted from reading it then. There is a diagnostic test https://www.100yearlife.com/diagnostic/ where you can plot where you are at the moment.
The more I read the book, the more I thought that the scenarios could only work for people who were well-educated, well-paid and half of a couple. It is to this demographic that the book is pitched, so is slightly out-of-touch with the average Brit.
The median full-time British salary at the time of writing is about Ł31k per person (from statista.com). Once you have paid your tax, NI contributions, student loan, rent or mortgage, bills etc there is virtually nothing left. It wouldn’t be possible to save 10% or more of your salary, even if you took no holidays and spent money only on essentials.
Will a 100-year life be a blessing or a curse?
A lot depends on how governments and corporations change, which is always a very slow process. The legal system, tax and benefit system and employment legislation will have to be overhauled, otherwise it will just be the top levels of society that will benefit from the new longevity.
In the 20th century, great leaps were made which benefitted the population of the UK and other western countries. Sick pay, maternity and paternity leave, and state pensions helped to overcome inequality. Let’s hope that the levelling up that needs to take place to benefit all of society, rather than the privileged, takes place soon.
About the author
Annette Peppis leads the team at Peppis Designworks, a creative hub of established publishing industry experts who create books, branding, marketing material and design templates for leading publishers and businesses. Keep in touch by subscribing to Annette’s bi-monthly emails.