I was already to write a snarky review about Davos, the Swiss Alp’s town where the elitists of the elite gather annually to party and discuss a broad array of stuff. Then I went there. Online. And that changed my mind.
Instead of thinking the 46th World Economic Forum (WEF) at Davos was just an excuse for the moneyed to gather for no particular reason —other than that they had the money and could afford to go—I learned the event is well worth attending. Particularly for those serious about learning about our changing world.
Before introducing you to one of the programs I insist is worth every bit of your time listening to, here are a few things to know about this WEF:
- WEF is a Swiss non-profit organization. This year’s event theme is “Mastering the Fourth Industrial Revolution.”
- WEF is an invitation-only gig. According to Klaus Schwab, founder and executive chairman of WEF, attendees numbered 2400 (not including security). Among them, Pope Francis and our very own Vice President Joe Biden.
- CNNMoney reported that tickets to Davos ran $20,000. Add in transportation along with lodging, wining and dining and costs could hit $40,000.
- Sadly, the number of women participating remains at disgracefully puny levels. This year, 18 percent of those participating are women. That’s up from 17 percent in 2015 and 16 percent in 2014.
Below, in no particular order, are a few points made during the most excellent presentation titled “What If: You Are Still Alive in 2100?”
Narrated by Nancy Gibbs of TIME, the four panelists included: Elizabeth Blackburn , president of The Salk Institute for Biological Studies, La Jolla, California and co-recipient of the 2009 Nobel
Prize in Physiology or Medicine; Thomas DeRosa, chief executive officer, Welltower; Lynda Gratton, professor of Management Practice, London Business School; and Derek Yach, chief health officer, The Vitality Group Inc.
- The audience and panelist were asked if they had a common life expectancy of 150 years, what kinds of changes might they expect. Answer choices included people marrying and divorcing more frequently; having children later in life; retirement age moved to 100; society less equal because of unequal access to health and education; and a more equitable society because of more opportunities to overcome poverty in a lifetime. More than one answer could be chosen.
- The two most selected answers by both audience and the panel were first, that people would be getting married and divorced more frequently. Second, people would be working to age 100 before retiring.
- Living to 100 is no big deal these days.
- What’s interesting about that fact is why?According to Dr. Blackburn, the current life expectancy is now between 80 and 120 years. She said those who live 100+ years don’t die from common diseases such as heart disease, cancer, diabetes, but that the cause of their deaths “mystify their physicians.” She added, “There is often some crisis that happens and it (death) looks like a systems failure.“
- Live longer; work longer.
Professor Gratton said, “ If you want to retire at 100 and expect to live on 50 percent of your income, you will be working to ages 79 to 82. There’s no way out of that.”
There is, however, more to life than money. Relationships turn out to be very important, too. And so does the ability to change. Along with our shift towards an aging population will come a shift from “recreation to re-creation” said Gratton.
- From Derek Yach:”Climate change is not going away.”
Additionally, he said in 50 years the world’s population would be between 10 and 11 billion (it’s currently around 7.4 billion). Then, the three countries with the largest number of aging people will be India, China and Nigeria, in that order. All are countries that will not have the increased wealth to handle the changes an aging population brings with it.
Yach said that all developed nations need to “strengthen their entitlement programs” and insure that they (the programs) can last over 75 years.
- And if you’re hoping to “age in place”, that is live and die at home, that might not happen.
Welltower’s DeRosa pointed out how impractical and dangerous the elderly living at home can be. In addition to having a family that welcomes their aging parent(s) comes the reality of nutrition and safety. He said homes aren’t environments designed for the care of the elderly, and, neither are cities. “How does and 87-year-old navigate the city?”
No matter how you slice it, living a long life is hugely expensive for all involved: the individual, their family, health care and government programs.
Bottom line: Expect your taxes to go up.
Various Davos programs are available online at www.weforum.org.