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If you are 50 years old or older, you should know that seniors have become a powerful economic engine in the United States. As usual, the numbers tell the story: Of the 327 million Americans, fully 111 million fall into your age group. By 2050, this number is expected to double. This age group is responsible for $7.6 trillion in economic activity, according to Oxford Economics, an economic forecasting organization. The products and services the senior age group consumes have become a major driver of the American economy, so much so that it now has a name: The Longevity Economy.

Two adages describe the Longevity Economy: “Knowledge is power,” because clearly seniors have the benefit of years of learning and acquired wisdom; and “Money equals power,” because today the spending power of seniors makes this population segment essential for the continued growth and expansion of the national economy. Advances in medical science and healthcare allow a significant portion of the senior population to keep working well beyond what was traditionally considered retirement age. That means seniors increasingly have earning power that allows them to keep contributing mightily to the economy.

Contrary to the conventional myth that seniors are not tech-savvy, it is now estimated that 70 percent of this group is now actively online. That means that not only are seniors continuing to participate in the labor market, but they are also funding and purchasing via the digital economy. Therefore, it should come as no surprise that AARP reports that 83 percent of US household wealth is held by people over 50. Oxford reports that the over-50 crowd represents the majority of the spending in several categories of goods and services, including: healthcare, nondurable goods, durable goods, utilities, motor vehicles and parts, financial services and household goods.

The spending power of older people is also driving innovation in technology designed specifically for older people who want to keep and reside in their main asset – their homes. Tech companies are answering the call for senior independence with products such as smart home devices. Consider the voice-based virtual assistants that can remind us to take medications or to keep appointments. Other such products include household sensors that automatically turn on lights when a person enters a room, or alert external caregivers when routine movements are not occurring in a house. There are even household sensors that can detect if an occupant has fallen, and then contact emergency services. These and other technology advances are allowing seniors to successfully age in place and maintain control over their lives.

The future of the Longevity Economy looks promising. The spending power the older age group represents is likely to drive industry and manufacturing, and therefore an increase in available jobs. Grandpa is no longer being “put out to pasture.” Instead, he (or she) is designing the pasture, directing its growth and viability and funding its future. If you are over 50, that should cause you to feel powerful and a vital part of your country’s economy.

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