关键词：长寿时代 人口红利 长寿经济 产业结构
Abstract: Human society is entering an age of longevity, which poses a significant challenge for the future development of humanity. This age of longevity is characterised by low mortality and birth rates and prolonged lifespans. For a quite long period of time, the life expectancy of human being has increased by 2-3 years every 10 years, and the number of centenarians in our midst is increasing. At the same time, the population age structure has changed, from pyramidal to pillar-shaped, and then plateaued with the elderly share of population higher than one quarter. This article further refines the definition of the age of longevity, considers it as a new steady state of the demographic transition, and, on this basis, performs an inductive research with relevant academic theories. The article will also provide a systematic explanation of the characteristics and causes of the age of longevity, and further propose that this age of longevity will usher in an era of health and an era of wealth , which will have an impact on society in terms of economic models, industrial structures and a range of other dimensions. In addition, this article provides a dynamic view of how our society is responding to the rapid ageing, evaluates the potential social and economic impacts of this age of longevity, and proposes that in this era, a new model of longevity economy will emerge, which will bring about profound changes to personal lifestyles, health management and wealth planning at the micro level, and encourage enterprises to change the ways in which they do business, to maintain organisational vitality, and to assume greater amounts of social responsibility. On this basis, this article discusses potential solutions to the challenges posed by this age of longevity from a community, government and corporate perspective, with a particular emphasis on the need for businesses to innovate in terms of their business models, and embrace the concept of sharing and the ecology. This article therefore has theoretical and practical implications for guiding industrial change and corporate transformation in this age of longevity.
Age of longevity
随着世界老龄人口占比不断增加的趋势日益明显，学界普遍认为其速度加快会带来一系列社会问题，日本等部分国家已出现了经济衰退现象。但也有实证研究发现老龄人口不断增加与经济增长之间没有负面关系，经济学家将其归因于相关国家的科技发展及对老龄化的适应速度较快（Acemoglu and Restrepo，2017）。面对人类寿命日益延长，一些学者聚焦于寿命实质增长所带来的生活与就业的改变，提出了“长寿时代”（the Age of Longevity）的概念（琳达·格拉顿等，2018）①。我们认为“长寿时代”这一概念,虽然包含“老龄化”所描述的一些典型人口现象，但更多地指向老年人口占比升高后人类社会的一种相对稳定状态，有着更丰富的含义。首先，“长寿时代”更具前瞻性，强调人口结构转变后的新均衡及其带来的影响，启迪个人和社会立足全生命周期，积极主动地应对这一变化。而老龄化多是关注老年人口变化的阶段性过程和发展困境，其视角往往着眼于老龄人口本身及其产生的问题，偏向被动应对。其次，“长寿时代”涵盖的领域更广，包括长寿与健康、财富等主题的内在关联，蕴涵了人口现象背后一系列的挑战和机遇。最后，在阐述“长寿时代”特征时，我们不仅仅停留在死亡率、出生率下降这两个导致“老龄化”的因素上，而是增加了对寿命增长和人口结构变迁长期趋势的预测，把“长寿时代”所指的长期的、相对稳定的人口和社会经济形态界定得更清晰。本文旨在系统性地阐述“长寿时代”的内涵与外延，扩充完善其学术理论，并在社会、政府、企业层面探讨了对长寿时代的应对思路。
In the face of the accelerating trend of old-age dependency ratio, there is a widespread belief in the academic world that the increasing speed of population ageing will give rise to a range of social problems. Indeed, a number of countries, notably including Japan, have already begun to show signs of an economic recession. Empirical studies, however, have found no negative relationship between this ongoing acceleration in population ageing and economic growth, a fact that economists attribute to the technological developments of the countries involved, and their relatively rapid adaptation to ageing (Acemoglu and Restrepo, 2017). Faced with a constant increase in human life expectancy, a number of scholars have focused on the changes in lifestyles and employment brought about by the real increase in life expectancy, and have proposed the concept of “the Age of Longevity” (Lynda Gratton et al., 2018) (1). In our view, although this concept includes a number of typical population traits encompassed by the term “ageing”, it further highlights the relative stability of human society as the proportion of the elderly in the population increases, and therefore has a wider, deeper meaning. First of all, this “age of longevity” is more forward-looking, emphasising the new steady state and the impact thereof following this demographic transition, inspiring individuals and society as a whole to grasp all stages of life cycle, and actively respond to this change. While ageing is mainly concerned with the gradual process of population ageing and the resulting development issues, its point of view often focuses on the ageing population itself and the problems that it creates, and tends to provide passive responses to these. Secondly, the “age of longevity” covers a wider range of areas, including the interconnection of longevity, health, wealth and other themes, implicitly suggesting a series of challenges and opportunities which lie beyond the population dynamics itself. Finally, when describing the characteristics of this “age of longevity”, we have not merely confined ourselves to the twin factors of declining mortality and birth rate which lead to the “ageing”, but have also expanded predictions of long-term trends in life expectancy growth and demographic changes, to provide a clearer definition of the long-term, relatively stable population and socio-economic patterns referred to in the “age of longevity”. This article aims to provide a systematic explanation of the meaning and connotations of the “age of longevity”, expand and enhance academic theory on the subject, and discuss responses to the age of longevity at the social, government and corporate levels.
The data indicates that the world is ageing rapidly. The United Nations Population Division’s World Population Prospects 2019 shows that in 2019, the average life expectancy of the world’s population was 72.6 years, an increase of 8.4 years compared to 1990. By 2050, global average life expectancy is expected to reach 77.1 years. In 1990, the elderly, i.e., those aged 65 years and above, made up 6.2% of the world’s total population, whereas by 2019, this figure had risen to 9.1%; by 2050, it is expected to reach 15.9%. At the same time, the growth rate of the population over 80 years old will outstrip that of the younger segment of the elderly population. In 1990, the global population above 80 years of age comprised a mere 54 million people, whereas by 2019, this had risen to 143 million, and is expected to reach 426 million by 2050. United Nations data also shows that over the past few decades, the world has experienced a decline in fertility almost across the board. From 3.2 in 1990, the total fertility rate had dropped to 2.5 in 2019, and is likely to further decline to 2.2 by 2050. This has also brought about a significant slowdown in the growth rate of the global birth population, and global birth population numbers are expected to begin to decline year on year from 2045 onward. According to the United Nations Population Division’s medium-variant projections, the size of the global population may peak around 2100 and then begin to fall, while some demographers believe that the population inflection point may come as early as in 2050 (Darrell Bricker et al., 2019).
According to the trend of population’s median age reported by United Nations, the ageing population of the nations of East Asia is growing faster than that of many European and American countries. Of these nations, the proportion of Japan’s elderly population has, since 2005, surpassed that of the Nordic countries, and now ranks first worldwide, with an old-age dependency ratio currently standing at 48%. Between 2010 and 2019, the number of deaths in Japan was 2.6 million higher than the number of births. It is estimated that, by the mid-21st century, Japan’s population will reduce to approximately 100 million and will shrink further to 75 million by the end of the century. In recent years, Japan’s situation has been repeated across the Asia-Pacific region (South Korea, Singapore, and China’s regions of Hong Kong and Taiwan, inter alia). Japan’s pattern of population dynamics, therefore, has useful implications for China.
与东亚发达国家和地区类似，中国的人均期望寿命在增加，老龄人口增长速度不断加快，人口年龄结构正在发生深刻变化。中国2016年的人口预期寿命为76.3岁，在195个国家中排名68位，有学者认为若按此趋势保持下去，2040年中国的排名将会上升至39位，人口预期寿命达到81.9岁（Foreman et al.，2018）。在老龄人口占比结构及增长速度方面，根据国家统计局公布的数据，中国65岁及以上人口占比已从2000年的7.0%上升到2019年的12.6%。据联合国预计，到2025年中国65岁及以上人口占比就将上升到14%，到2045年预计每4个中国人中就有1位老人。
In a similar way to the developed nations and regions of East Asia, China’s average life expectancy is also increasing, the growth rate of the elderly population is constantly accelerating, and the age structure of the population is undergoing profound changes. In 2016, China’s life expectancy was 76.3 years, ranking 68th out of 195 countries. Some scholars believe that if this trend continues, China will climb the ranks to 39th by 2040, with a population life expectancy of 81.9 years (Foreman et al., 2018). In terms of the relative size of the elderly population, data released by China’s National Bureau of Statistics shows that the proportion of the country’s population aged 65 years and above has risen, from 7.0% in 2000 to 12.6% in 2019. According to United Nations estimates, by 2025, China’s population aged 65 years and above will rise to 14%, and it is estimated that every one in four persons in China will be elderly by 2045.
Compared with the world’s developed countries, China will face even greater challenges. China’s large population base and rapidly declining fertility rate have accelerated the growth of its elderly population; the national health and welfare systems will find it difficult to keep up with the impending age structure of the population; and the life expectancy of the population is rising fast, but average per capita income and savings are lower than those of developed countries over the same stage of demographic transition. Difficulties are being encountered supporting the consumption levels of individuals during retirement, and instances of “Getting Old before Getting Rich” and old-age penury can be found across society. In 2019, China’s population aged 65 years and above made up 12.6% of the total population, while per capita GDP had broken the USD 10, 000 barrier. By contrast, at the stage when their American, Japanese and Korean counterparts made up 12.6% of the population, these nations’ per capita GDP already exceeded USD 24, 000. A number of foreign experts have proposed that the growth rate of China’s future ageing population may very likely be higher than Japan’s, and the problems that this will cause will be more severe.
As the human race entered the mid-18th century, and particularly following the Industrial Revolution, life expectancy began a period of unprecedented growth, and the population age structure, which had remained relatively constant for a long time, underwent profound changes, all of which has attracted great attention and theoretical discussion amongst scholars (Angus Deaton, 2014). Modern demography has undergone three major stages of theoretical development since its birth: the first is Malthusian theory, which has continued to evolve since the end of the 18th century to the present date. The second is the population decline theory , developed in the latter years of the 20th century, while the third is “active ageing”, which has been widely discussed and extensively studied over the last 20 years. However, none of these theories appear able to effectively face up to the challenges of the current, global wave of population ageing.
The first of these theories is the Malthusian school. Malthus, a pioneer in research into modern population problems, expounded on the restrictive impact of resources on population growth in agricultural society in his population theory, and this later developed into the Malthusian school, which emphasised the necessity of population control. In the 1970s, the Club of Rome, a well-known non-governmental academic organisation, constructed models to predict the excessive population growth of the Industrial Era and the resulting limit of economic growth (Donella Meadows et al., 2019), and believed that population growth and resource utilisation would lead to uncontrollable failures as Malthus described, which required vigilance and close attention. In recent years, real-life data has shown that forecasts of this kind are biased, failing to fully consider the freeing-up of resources brought about by the technological revolution as well as the reduced desire to reproduce brought about by urbanisation, and hence excessively exaggerating the potential risks of population growth.
第二类理论密切关注老龄人口增长问题，并提出人口衰竭的预期。20世纪末至今，全球相继迈入老龄人口快速增长阶段且各国缺乏有效应对方案，有关人口结构老龄化、人口规模衰减的分析研究开始大量兴起。1987年，德克·范德卡（Dirk Van de Kaa）提出“第二次人口转变”（The Second Demographic Transition），对生育率低于人口替代率的现象作出解释（Van de Kaa，1987）。在分析老龄人口增长及人口规模下降的成因及影响方面，多国学者均指出人口老龄化及人口负增长会对消费、生产力、就业、创新、竞争力、财政储蓄与文明传承造成压力，此类研究强调老龄人口的负担性及人口负增长带来的挑战（Bloom et al.，2003；Maestas et al.，2016；大前研一，2017；梁建章、黄文政，2018；达雷尔·布里克等，2019）。
The second of these theories was intimately related to the growth of aged population, and raised the prospect of population decline. Since the end of the 20th century, the world as a whole has entered a phase of rapid population ageing, an issue to which no country has so far found an effective solution, and analytical research into the ageing of the population structure and shrinking population sizes has taken on new importance. In 1987, Dirk Van de Kaa proposed a “second demographic transition” to explain why fertility rates can be lower than the population replacement rate (Van de Kaa, 1987). In their analyses of the causes and effects of population ageing and population shrinking, scholars from around the world have all pointed out the pressure that population ageing and negative population growth will place on consumption, productivity, employment, innovation, competitiveness, fiscal savings and cultural heritage. Studies of this kind emphasise the burden of the ageing population and the challenges brought about by negative population growth (Bloom et al., 2003; Maestas et al., 2016; Kenichi Ohmae, 2017; Liang Jianzhang and Huang Wenzheng, 2018; Darrell Bricker et al., 2019).
Since the 1990s, “active ageing” has become a topic of widespread discussion. At this time, the United Nations, World Health Organisation and other international bodies began to advocate “healthy ageing”, and later proposed a definition of “active ageing”. People realised that the phenomenon of ageing population growth needed be viewed from multiple perspectives, and research in this field has gradually diversified and subdivided. The growth of the ageing population began to be seen in terms of advances in science and technology, medicine, healthcare, public health and other aspects, and people now generally consider the issue a “coexistence of opportunities and challenges”. At the same time, China has since 2000 also more and more studies into the issue of elder care, and there has been an obvious upward trend in this research area (Cao Xianyu and Sui Dangchen, 2018).
This era of increasing ageing segments in the populations of various countries has shown up the various shortcomings of classic demographic theory, while research focusing on the issue of population ageing is on the one hand mainly based on fragmented results and lacking in systematic, theoretical guidance, while on the other, an emphasis on data analysis and forecasting is lacking in input from practical experience and systematic solutions for the age structure of the future population. Standing in the past as we look to the future makes us subject to the developmental logic of the current stage of society, making it hard to effectively overcome the challenges that we face. This article provides an interpretation of the development context of the global population in order to point out the irreversible nature of this age of longevity, analyses the interactions between the various elements based on future population and social patterns, and uses these to derive reasonable and effective countermeasures. The article will expand the theoretical value of the concept “age of longevity”, establishes a developmental, theoretical analysis framework which is consistent with the long-term trends of future life expectancy and population age structure, provides an in-depth analysis of the challenges and opportunities posed by the age of longevity, and proposes suitable responses for enterprises and individuals.
文章首先阐述长寿时代的主要特征及形成原因，探讨低死亡率、低生育率，以及预期寿命保持增长、人口年龄结构趋向柱状、平台期老龄人口占比超越1/4等人口现象。第二，在微观角度指出长寿时代与健康时代、财富时代的关联性：长寿时代下预期寿命的延长、生存质量的提高和社会功能的变化将造就健康产业及健康经济，同时社会储蓄结构及财富积累形式将会发生变化，对养老金替代率充足的需求，会推动第二次人口红利（Mason and Lee，2004）。第三，从宏观角度说明长寿时代对生产、需求、就业、增长、社会公平等多方面的影响。最后，文章着重探讨了在长寿时代下，个人社会需要作出的调整，政府的作用，以及企业应如何创新商业模式、保持企业活力、承担企业社会责任，通过市场经济的方式解决社会问题，积极迎接机遇与挑战。
We will first elaborate on the main characteristics and causes of the age of longevity, discussing the low mortality and fertility rates, as well as the sustained growth in life expectancy, the pillar-shaped tendency of the population age structure, and the phenomenon of the proportion of the ageing population making up more than a quarter of the population during the plateau period. Secondly, from a micro perspective, we will point out the interactions among the age of longevity, the era of health, and the era of wealth. On one hand, increased life expectancy, improved quality of life and changes in social functions will create growth opportunities for health-related industries and health economy. On the other, the changes which will occur in the social savings structure and forms of wealth accumulation, as well as the need for a sufficiently robust pension replacement rate will drive a second demographic dividend (Mason and Lee, 2004). Thirdly, we will use a macro perspective to illustrate the impact of the age of longevity on production, demand, employment, growth, social equity and other areas. Finally, this article will focus on discussing the adjustments which individuals and society will need to make in this age of longevity, the role of government, and the ways in which enterprises can develop innovative business models, maintain their corporate vitality, take on corporate social responsibility, use market economic means to resolve social issues, and actively meet the opportunities and challenges that arise.