Global Population Ageing: The 21st Century’s Formative Market Opportunity

26 Oct 2015

Oliver Cann, Head of Media Content, Public Engagement, Tel.: +41 22 869 1406, email

  • New white paper from World Economic Forum Global Agenda Council on Ageing calls businesses to embrace ageing as a powerful market driver
  • How 21st Century Longevity Can Create Markets and Drive Economic Growth examines the market dynamics created by a 60+ age demographic, whose numbers will reach 2 billion by 2050
  • Paper introduces age-friendly business principles to guide workplace and workforce alignment to current demographic realities
  • Read the full white paper here

Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, 26 October 2015 – An ageing global population is bringing to the fore dramatic economic opportunities, as well as powerful arguments for healthy and active ageing. A new white paper from the World Economic Forum’s Global Agenda Council on Ageing examines how this powerful market driver is shaping the 21st century. The paper also officially launches the council’s Guiding Principles for Age-Friendly Businesses, to help align workplaces and workforces with current age demographic realities.

The paper, How 21st Century Longevity Can Create Markets and Drive Economic Growth describes how the so-called silver economy can be a driver of economic growth at national, regional and global levels, and offers tips for businesses hoping to create an age-friendly environment.

“The World Economic Forum has been a leader in thinking about and shaping the powerful arguments for healthy and active ageing, and the role business can play in driving solutions to address this trend,” said Arnaud Bernaert, Head of Global Health and Healthcare Industries at the Forum. “This paper offers new perspectives in its positioning of ageing’s impact on business and markets, and will also help guide our engagement with NGOs, governments, global institutions, academics and think tanks across society on how to enable population ageing to be a positive contributor to social and economic life.”

The white paper highlights a number of forward-thinking companies that are seizing the ageing opportunity. These include firms recognizing the market potential for products and services geared towards people over 60, and other companies that have observed that creating and maintaining a better work environment for older workers brings benefits to all employees. The case studies and business principles behind each are rooted in three dynamics:

  • The demographic is newly formed. According to United Nations estimates, there will be 1 billion people aged 60 years or over by 2020, reaching 2 billion by mid-century. At the same point in time, and for the first time ever, there will be more people over 60 than under 15, according to the Global Coalition on Ageing.
  • The group controls the purse strings. With better economic futures and a boom in employment opportunities, older people have become conspicuous consumers and active savers.
  • The group creates new demands. Entirely new markets for products and services are opening up across all sectors.

“The realities of living longer are built in for generations to come, so we must extend our thinking to the global corporate community, with a focus on how the continued engagement of this older demographic can yield economic growth,” said Derek Yach, Chairman of the Forum’s Global Agenda Council on Ageing. “We applaud the companies that have already taken action, and we hope to further these efforts through our Guiding Principles for Age-Friendly Businesses as aspirational goals for all employers, big and small, globally.”

Guiding Principles for Age-Friendly Businesses

  • An Age-Neutral Workplace: Recognize the value of employees of all ages
  • A Supportive Working Environment: Create a working culture that will provide access to and sustain employees regardless of age
  • An Inclusive Culture: Accept and embrace employees across all ages
  • Lifelong Learning and Participation: Keep opportunities available and open for learning and mentoring
  • Financial Planning for Longer Working Lives: Inform all employees to gain more financial literacy to better serve their increasing needs over time
  • Healthy Ageing: Encourage and support an active and healthy lifestyle
  • Supportive Caregiving: Support employees as they honour their caregiving responsibilities


Notes to Editors

The Host broadcaster for the Summit is Abu Dhabi Media.

All opinions expressed are those of the author. The World Economic Forum Blog is an independent and neutral platform dedicated to generating debate around the key topics that shape global, regional and industry agendas.