Episode #127 – Marc Miller interviews author Andrew Scott on longevity and working later in life.
Andrew Scott is a Professor of Economics at the London Business School. His research, writing, and talks focus on the macro trends that shape the global environment, from technology, longevity, globalization, through to interest rates and exchange rates. His work on longevity emphasizes the positive impact of a longevity dividend. It isn’t just that there are more old people but also how we are aging is changing.
Andrew’s 2016 book, The 100-Year Life, on this theme, became an award-winning global bestseller translated into 15 languages. He has been an advisor to a range of corporates and governments on a broad range of economic issues and an award-winning public speaker, combining, insight, clarity, humor, and a motivation to action for anyone who hears him.
[1:31] Marc welcomes you to Episode 127 of the Repurpose Your Career podcast. Career Pivot brings you this podcast; CareerPivot.com is one of the very few websites dedicated to those of us in the second half of life and our careers. Take a moment to check out the blog and the other resources delivered to you, free of charge.
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[2:22 Next week, Marc will interview Tami Forman, who is the executive director of Path Forward, a non-profit organization that creates mid-career returnship programs. (If that interview is delayed, Marc will read a chapter from the next edition of Repurpose Your Career.)
[2:58] This week, Marc is speaking with Andrew Scott, co-author of The 100-Year Life: Living and Working in an Age of Longevity. Marc introduces Andrew with his bio.
[4:09] Marc welcomes Andrew to the Repurpose Your Career podcast.
Now on to the podcast…
[4:27] Marc reached out to Andrew after reading his article “Is 75 the New 65? How the Definition of Aging Is Changing,” on NextAvenue.org. Having interviewed authors Ashton Applewhite, Patti Temple Rocks, and Chris Farrell about ageism, Marc wanted to segue with Andrew into talking more about aging.
[4:58] Andrew says we have made a mess about age. Aging brings to mind ‘end of life.’ Chronologically, everyone’s aging at exactly the same rate — one year, every year.
[5:30] As a macroeconomist, Andrew looks at trends that shape the world. He noticed that, on average, we are living longer and healthier lives. Governments are worried about workers aging out of the workforce, causing problems for Social Security and pensions.
[6:12] Andrew wonders how does the good news that we are living longer and healthier turn into the bad news that we will be a burden on society? There are two things happening. First, as the birth rate declines and people live for longer, the average citizen is older. Everyone focuses on that.
[6:36] The exciting thing is that, on average, we are aging differently. In essence, we are younger for longer. A 78-year-old in the U.S. or the UK today has the same mortality rate as a 65-year-old from 40 years ago. We are in better health, but because we look just at chronological age, we don’t notice that. We need to look at biological age.
[7:33] Marc turns 63 next month. Marc lives a very different life at 63 than his father lived at 63. Marc’s father had been forced to retire at 60. He lived for 15 more years, but it figuratively killed him. Marc will not let his life pass on.
[8:12] Chronological age tells how many years since you were born. Mortality risk tells how many years until you die. The average American has never been older but we are also younger because our mortality rate is lower. We have a lot more years to go.
[9:05] In the Twentieth Century, we created a life based on a 70-year life expectancy — a three-stage life of education, work, and retirement. That creates a sociological sense of age — what you should be doing at a certain age. That’s where corporate ageism comes from.
[9:38] The average age of the Rolling Stones is seven or eight years older than the average age of the U.S. Supreme Court. We need to change our sociological norms. Andrew points to CareerPivot.com and NextAvenue.org as examples of experimenting with new rules for longer lives.
[10:10] The New Yorker, in 1937, first publicly used the word, ‘teenager.’ It was a new concept. In the 1950s, it became established. Previously, one was considered an adult by around age 14.
[10:54] For most of human history, people were not aware of the day or year they were born. They were “fit and healthy,” or “a grandfather,” or “a mother.” They didn’t know their chronological age. They had a more “real” sense of age.
[11:26] Starting in the Nineteenth Century, governments started keeping accurate birth records. In the Twentieth Century, birthday celebrations and birthday parties began. The song, “Happy Birthday To You”, became popular in the ’30s. Once governments began tracking people by age, they started separating them by age, for school and work.
[12:04] The greatest example of this age separation is retirement at age 65 when you are “old.” Because we are living longer, considering 65 to be old doesn’t work anymore. People age differently. There is a great diversity in how healthy and active people are over age 65.
[12:43] Marc talks about 80-year-olds in the Ajijic Hiking Group, who easily beat him in hiking. These 80-year-olds look at life differently than Marc would have thought they do. It is a mindset. Many are retirees. Marc isn’t retiring, at least for the next 15 years. He just moved his business down to Ajijic.
[13:41] The Twentieth-Century three-stage life worked for a 70-year lifespan. But we learned in the Twentieth Century that age is malleable. You can influence how you age and how long you will live. Diet, exercise, community, and relationships all make a difference. Having engagement and a sense of purpose helps you age better.
[14:30] How do we create this new, longer life, when the three-stage life has us retiring at age 65? How are you engaging in the world and what is your sense of purpose? We are in a social experiment. We need to find how to use time in productive ways.
[16:19] Anthropologists call an ambiguous threshold of transition a liminality. Teenage years are a liminality. The years around retirement are a new liminality.
[17:04] In Andrew’s book, Jane graduates from college, marries Jorge, and they take turns reinventing themselves every 15 years. This is foreign to how Marc was raised, to have a 40-year career leading to retirement.
[18:14] In a longer life, it is important to keep your options open. Reinvention comes by your choice or from circumstances given to you, like being laid off. Reinvention is one of the challenges of a longer life. Andrew tells 40-year-olds that they have more working years ahead of them than they have behind them. That shocks them.
[19:22] In Arizona, on January 1, 1960, Del Webb, opened the first Sun City with five model homes and a strip mall. 10,000 cars drove in the first day. In those days, people of retirement age could expect to live 10 or 15 years. Today, in a married couple of 65, one of the spouses has a good chance of living to 100. What are they going to do?
[20:20] The UK Pension was introduced in 1908. Since then, life expectancy has increased by 36 years. Andrew says it is crazy that the three-stage life has not been changed much in that time. We’re biologically aging better. Most of these extra years of life come in the second half of middle age.
[21:03] For about the last hundred years, roughly every decade, life expectancy has increased by two or three years. That’s like adding six to eight hours to every day. With more time, we would structure our day differently. We have longer lives and we can structure them differently. The average age of first marriages has gone from 20 to 30.
[22:14] The number of people working after age 70 has tripled in the United States over the last 20 years. A person in their 20s needs to think about working into their early 80s. There is time for experimentation and finding what you like and are good at. In your 40s, 50s, 60s, and 70s, you’re going to need to think more about investing.
[24:07] Almost half of Marc’s online community is over 60; one-third are over 65. One of the common themes is they all want the freedom to keep on working, on their terms. Andrew notes that GenX and Millennials want flexible, meaningful, purposeful, autonomous work; so do workers over 60. We all want that.
[25:09] At every age, preparing for your future self is important. That’s the key mindset perspective. “How do I make sure that I’m fit, healthy, engaged, and have my community and sense of purpose?” In a longer life, you need to be more forward-looking.
[25:58] At 78, you have 13 more years of life than at 65, with the health that a 65-year-old of 40 years ago had. You are younger than your age. There are new options and new possibilities at every age. We work it out as we go along.
[27:20] Marc recalls discussing with Ashton Applewhite, author of This Chair Rocks: A Manifesto Against Ageism, that the older we get, the younger we feel, and the longer we want to live. Our view of old age keeps on moving further and further out.
[27:42] Andrew notes the paradox of aging: younger people see the challenges of aging and think it sounds terrible but happiness often increases as people grow older. Andrew shares his explanation.
[28:52] As people get very old and sense that they may be approaching their final decade, they do want to focus on the things that matter the most to them. For most, that will be in their 80s and 90s.
[29:33] Marc contrasts the treatment of ages in the U.S. and in Mexico. There are so many multi-generational homes in Mexico, and it is very healthy. Inter-generational mixing is good. Our U.S. obsession with age led to labeling the generations, separating them further from each other. The generations don’t mix.
[31:43] People are people. Labeling comes about due to a lack of inter-generational mixing. Inter-generational mixing will become more crucial as we all live longer. It is a great way of spreading knowledge and insight. It will help the young be more forward-looking and the old to be more youthful and innovative.
[33:02] Marc recalls his presentation in March on the five generations in the workplace. Many of the audience had never networked with Millennials. One had volunteered in the Beto O’Rourke Senate campaign, where he learned a lot.
[33:43] Andrew has a website, 100yearlife.com, that includes a free diagnostic to look at your finances, skills, knowledge, physical and mental health, and your relationships, as well as your ability to undergo change. A three-stage life did not encourage many transitions. The transitions were: college to work and work to retirement.
[34:20] More than 20K people have taken the diagnostic. There was no real pattern by age. People are the same, whatever age they are. Only one pattern emerged. Men in their 50s had quite narrow (similar) social circles. To transition well, open yourself up to new people and new ideas and find new circumstances.
[36:03] Put yourself into challenging and different situations where you are not as well-known. That’s how you grow, learn, and transition.
[36:20] Contact Andrew and buy his book through 100yearlife.com or see his ongoing work on his personal website, AndrewScott.global. Also, reach Andrew on Twitter at
@ProfAndrewScott or LinkedIn at Andrew Scott. Andrew shares resources with people around the world experimenting and learning from each other on how to live well longer.
[37:02] Marc thanks Andrew and hopes you enjoyed this episode. Marc thoroughly enjoyed speaking with Andrew. What are you going to do with all those extra years? Marc has a plan; do you?
[37:21] The Career Pivot Community website has become a valuable resource for more than 50 members who are participating in the Beta phase of this project. Marc is recruiting new members for the next cohort.
[37:35] If you are interested in the endeavor and would like to be put on the waiting list, please go to CareerPivot.com/Community. When you sign up you’ll receive information about the community as it evolves.
[37:50] Those who are in these initial cohorts set the direction of this endeavor. Right now they are forming writing groups. This is a paid membership community with group coaching and special content. More importantly, it’s a community where you can seek help. Go to CareerPivot.com/Community to learn more.
[38:21] Marc invites you to connect with him on LinkedIn.com/in/mrmiller. Just include in the connection request that you heard Marc on this podcast. You can look for Career Pivot on Facebook, LinkedIn, or @CareerPivot on Twitter.
[38:39] Please come back next week, when Marc will speak with Tami Forman, the executive director of Path Forward.
[38:46] Marc thanks you for listening to the Repurpose Your Career podcast.
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