One of the most important demographic changes, usually unnoticed in the eyes of the public in modern societies with its tendency to privilege the strength of the new and the freshness of the youth, is the aging of population. The statistics on life-expectancy trends are unequivocal. The world is gradually getting older and older in a process which has intensified in the last 200 years. Since 1840, life expectancy at birth has risen about three months with each passing year. In Sweden, one of the countries with the oldest data series on aging, in 1840 a woman lived 45 years; nowadays the life expectancy jumped to 83 years. In USA, the life expectancy at the beginning of 20th century was only 47 years, now the newborns should live on average 79 years.
The upward trend of life expectancy seems to be well spread and more or less constant globally in the last two centuries, independently of any single, specific event. Neither the advances in medicines and vacuums have accelerated much the long-run trend; neither the wars, genocides, catastrophes, epidemics, poverty which ailed the humanity in the period have compromised the smooth rising.
This trend will lead to a society in which the weight of the elderly population will be greater and greater with all social, economic, political implications and changes on customs it will bring. It is estimated the population 65 or older in EUA, 43 million today, in 2050 could reach 108 million, with “oldest old” cohort, those 85 or older may increase at least fivefold, representing 6% of the population. In England, the ONS estimates one third of the babies born in 2012 shall reach 100 years. And so forth… What has conventionally been called of age pyramid is turning upside down with the oldest cohorts growing proportionally more than the rest of the population, phenomenon which also is verified in Brazil that until recently were rated as a young country. According to IBGE, the 65 or older who represented only 5.61% of the population at the turn of this century, by 2030 may reach 13.44% of Brazilians.
A longer life is indeed good news, especially, if longevity science succeeds in making the later years vibrant as opposed to simply adding more time at a melancholic end. That living longer comes along with an overall improvement in the quality of life and that the final years can be enjoyed in the healthiest and most productive way possible.
Nevertheless, in case the life expectancy increase simply adds years to the life span of pensioners and retirees that debilitated by age and/or excluded from the labor market end up being a burden for the society, the costs of care for the elderly will become unbearable soon or later.
Therefore, modern societies face a major challenge. How to make the aging curve with the extension of the life expectancy in years comes alongside an improvement of elderly population health quality and a preservation of their labor capacity and productivity, in new conceptions of being and keeping productive.
It’s clear the public and private pension schemes with the current period of contribution on average up to 65 years will not be sustainable as the population starts to live longer; this leaving aside the rising costs of healthcare and other cares required by elderly. This is a new reality in which people will live longer lives that has not yet been translated or assimilated in budget structures of public sector and not even in private sector; has not been built in the economic incentives or in the public policies; and neither in the practices of most companies and in the labor market at large. This reality will have to be embraced soon or later.
On the one hand longevity science is doing its share trying to avoid treat the chronic disease individually, which are the major cause of death in the world, caused mainly by natural aging, searching for therapies which help to delay the biological clock. If people get older slowly, they may suffer less from chronical diseases. As so, we can say that from the clinical standpoint, we are evolving towards solving or minimize partially the problem.
However I do not think this will be enough to prepare ourselves for this new world full of gray-headed with many of them living over 100 years old. I believe the moral and social imaginary of our societies need to be adapted to this new reality, in what I would call a transformation of our current conceptions of life which shall fit into in a new life flow. A life that does not realize itself just through the maximum exploitation during the splendor of the golden years of our physical and mental faculties, but a life in which it is conceivable a productive being capable of creating value for the society with dignity outstretched in time which covers most of the span of our existence.
The new generations which may reach 100 years old will not live under the same conceptions of life of their parents and grandpas who lived fewer decades. The moral conceptions of how we fill our existence necessarily will have to be different influenced by the outstretched span of their life. New conceptions of labor, productivity, value of material stuffs, importance of life experience, and purpose in life… All those things will be affected by the fact that one will live longer and, most probably, better. Therefore, who knows, finally, if it will be the time of a more balanced life between work and leisure as imagined by some philosophers. A time of new attitudes and values rethinking, in which many lives will be contained in a same existence. Years lived out well and better spread out over the life flow.
Who knows it will not be the opportunity to put in perspective and/or getting rid of some dogmas which suffocate human life in our time. The endless concern with accumulation which may become less threatening once realized that it is possible to remain productive longer in life. In a reality in which will be possible reinvented him or herself several times during life. Of a world that will no longer see and value more our past as if saw us through the rear-view mirror of our failures, success and appearance and will see more through the windshield of possibilities that we have ahead of us.
In this world there may be more room for trial and error, for second chances, for turnaround, for fixing things, for doubts, for throwing everything up, for rethinking and reassess life purposes. After all, it will be a life too long to accept the determinism that because we have only one life the time is short and we should at all cost prevent mistakes and accumulate the maximum possible up to our 50 or so years old. If life will be only half way why such stress and anxiety brought about by the endless accumulation if we will be still around for 40 or even 50 years and furthermore producing most of the time?
And not that it is arguing in favor of the carelessness… But perhaps it is time to conceive a new life flow under a new reality of gains measures not only in money, but also in experience; investments of time in productive and fulfilling work. The accumulated experience is what we will have capitalized in the balance sheets of our lives to give and sell until the very end of our days.
As one can imagine the life flow equivalent and adapted to a 100 years life span values a better balance, moderation and wisdom by who is leading it conscious that the path is long and good things take time. No exaggeration or attempts to anticipate or possess much more than what is reasonable… Because in so doing it would generate imbalance and usurpation whether of our own time present in the self-deception of the inter temporal exchanges and different dimensions relevant for life in a voracious pursuit for endless accumulation; or the greed for money of those who do not give that is the work of those who do not have; or in the exploration of natural resources beyond the limits of the sustainability depleting them for the future generations.
At last it is worth mentioning this is not a utopia, but a logical elaboration of the limits of our existence and of the world we live in towards a more balanced life. A higher life expectancy, perhaps, will have the effect of counterbalancing the excesses and the aggressiveness of our civilizing adolescence and youth.
 Reference: http://www.theatlantic.com/features/archive/2014/09/what-happens-when-we-all-live-to-100/379338/.
 Office for National Statistics. Fonte: http://www.ons.gov.uk/ons/dcp171776_260525.pdf.
 Instituto Brasileiro de Geografia e Estatística. Fonte: http://www.ibge.gov.br/apps/populacao/projecao/.