Dmitry Kaminskiy is a co-founder and managing partner of Deep Knowledge Group.
The industrialization of longevity and the aging of populations are becoming major factors in the migration of private wealth. Over the past century, the financial industry largely neglected this ‘7th continent’ of one billion people, representing a dynamic and untapped market with a combined value of trillions of dollars. As increasing numbers of high-net-worth and middle-class individuals reach older adulthood and embrace the motto ‘health is the new wealth’, the tax havens and wealth preservation destinations of today will be transformed into havens of longevity and WealthTech in the coming decade.
As countries offer incentives to help citizens and corporations save and manage their wealth more competitively, economic migration and relocation are on the rise. However, with the concept of ‘health as the new wealth’ gaining in popularity, we can expect to see a growing number of countries and cities prioritizing both health and wealth, encouraging individual and institutional migration and relocation.
Four to five years from now, I expect to see a new normal of small, technocratic nations that selectively promote both personal and institutional citizenship to individuals, companies, and investors committed to advancing longevity-related technologies in exchange for access to some of the world’s most sophisticated and progressive AgeTech, BioTech, healthcare, HealthTech, life insurance, Longevity FinTech, MedTech, and WealthTech ecosystems. These products and services will enable the simultaneous maintenance of ‘healthspan’ (extended periods of healthy life in which individuals are free from age-related diseases for as long as possible) and ‘wealthspan’ (extended periods of financial wellness and stability).
For years, financial corporations have been integrating these concepts into their strategies as their clients know they will require a far longer horizon of financial planning and specifically designed financial products. Now, politicians are catching up. In the next few years, a handful of ‘smart states’ will emerge, offering their citizenry access to the best longevity tech-ecosystems and wealth-optimizing products and services available.
By 2050, 78% of the world’s population will live in cities. Yet many leading global cities have so far remained insulated from the aging trend. Most have a much younger demographic profile compared to their respective national averages. But by 2030, there will be a high proportion of elderly in over 30% of the OECD’s top 100 largest cities.
Municipalities, and particularly cities, will be affected by the consequences of aging populations. They will see a decrease in tax revenues and an increase in expenditure on public goods demanded by the elderly. The point at which these municipalities become longevity hubs draws closer every year.
Today, we see the development of age-friendly cities and towns that fulfill urban planning guidelines for supporting aging populations. However, governments must also be held responsible for driving forward other sectors of the longevity industry. Financial reforms and developing and supporting additional technological synergies such as integrating big data and healthcare are necessary steps for further industry growth.
When this happens, age-friendly cities will be superseded by longevity-friendly cities and longevity valleys — areas combining all facets of the longevity industry that empower elderly and middle-aged inhabitants financially, mentally, physically, and socially.
The following are some cities with the potential to become the longevity hubs of tomorrow:
Switzerland may well be the next leader in longevity. The country is already recognized as an international BioTech epicenter, and according to the global analysis service WealthBriefing its BioTech sector will really take off this year, and Geneva is a hotspot. Combined with its reputation for being one of the most progressive countries in terms of its financial and FinTech sectors, this will give Switzerland strong prospects for becoming the first longevity finance state by 2025.
Manchester is the first UK municipality to establish its own municipal Healthy Ageing Industrial Strategy, which is one of the key factors contributing to it becoming a progressive and financially stable longevity hub. The Greater Manchester Authority is just one of a large number of British municipalities that have signed up to the WHO’s Age-friendly Cities Framework, with similar partnerships and initiatives rapidly emerging across Britain’s other devolved administrations and Combined Authorities from Bristol to Scotland.
Akita is an example of Japan’s commitment to developing longevity-focused communities. The country has 25 WHO age-friendly cities and communities, and in 2011, Akita became the ﬁrst Japanese member of the Global Network for Age-friendly Cities and Communities, committing to applying the WHO’s age-friendly principles. The most recent addition to these ranks is Ninomiya Town with a population of 29,000, of which 33.6% is aged 65 and over. The population is expected to decrease to 26,000 in 2025 while the proportion of people aged 65 and older will grow to 36.7%. Ninomiya Town is implementing aging policies with the idea of “Building a town where people can age independently, safely and enjoyably.”
Hong Kong (SAR China)
Hong Kong is a technocratic tiger economy with the highest life expectancy of any country, city, or territory in the world, competitive levels of Health-Adjusted Life Expectancy (HALE), and a competitive HALE gap.
Because of its sophisticated financial system, English-speaking workforce, and connections around the world, it has a significant advantage over regional rivals. In the most recent Global Financial Centers Index developed by the China Development Institute and the London-based think tank Z/Yen Partners, Hong Kong took 4th place behind New York, London, and Singapore.
Seoul (South Korea)
In 2013, the Seoul Metropolitan Government established the 2020 Aging Society Master Plan, setting “the realization of an age-friendly city” as its main policy goal, under the vision of a “healthy and lively city of citizens over age 100”. This was the first time that the concept of age-friendliness was mentioned in any plan.
The city-state of Monaco has one of the highest life expectancies in the world while being the second-smallest and second most densely populated country. Furthermore, this Western European country on the French Riviera has the highest per-capita concentration of millionaires and billionaires in the world.
Singapore is another tiger economy that has recently overtaken Hong Kong on the Global Financial Centers Index, with a wide range of programs and initiatives in AgeTech. Singapore has one of the fastest aging populations in the world, with one in four Singaporeans expected to be aged 65 and above by 2030. Finance Minister Lawrence Wong has called this a “window of opportunity”.
The comfort of its aging population is part of its national longevity agenda, with the market of products targeted at Singaporeans aged over 50 expected to triple by 2025. On top of that, the government has launched initiatives for enhancing the quality of life of its senior population via smart devices. Internet of Things devices such as smart homes and autonomous vehicles are set to improve the comfort of elderly people in Singapore.
Israel is a well-known hub for the most advanced research in life sciences and it also has many advanced precision and longevity medicine clinics. On the other hand, Israel is also well known as the ‘Startup Nation’ with the highest density of new and emerging companies working in the field of cutting-edge technologies, including applications of AI for longevity and healthcare InsurTech.
NEOM (Saudi Arabia)
One pillar, which is entitled ‘Rejuvenated’, of NEOM’s seven-pillar framework, marks perhaps the first government-led smart city that prioritizes healthy human longevity as an explicit goal and asset. Meanwhile, it seems that NEOM’s particular emphasis on what longevity means is also well placed (namely, proactive rather than reactionary) in that it acknowledges the need to “transform aging into healthy longevity” as well as the critical role that technology will play in achieving its goal.
Abu Dhabi and Dubai (UAE)
There are many ground-breaking projects and initiatives in these two megapolises at the intersection of advanced tech, finance, and healthcare. Considering the overall growth and prosperity of the Gulf Region, Saudi Arabia and the UAE are quickly evolving not only as financial, but also as new technological hubs. Among other potential cities and countries in the region, Abu Dhabi and Dubai are ones to watch as probable leaders in becoming true longevity hubs in the next few years.
By 2025, we will see the emergence of the first longevity valley, and by 2030, the first longevity state. The title of the world’s first longevity finance valley by 2025 will go to that area which exhibits superior mastery of the technocratic approach to governance at a municipal level. Over the next decade, the rise of definitive full-scope longevity industry hubs will lead to intense competition between cities and nations.
From the progress of longevity industrialization in particular regions, we see that Hong Kong, Israel, Japan, Singapore, Switzerland, the UK, the USA, and other developed nations have the potential to become the world’s first longevity states by 2030. Countries will seek to attract key longevity companies, entrepreneurs, scientists, and investors to bolster their local industry ecosystems. Increasing numbers of industry stakeholders will choose to relocate to take advantage of greater levels of governmental support and to access higher density, more efficient, and more populous longevity industry supply chains, networks, and ecosystems.
To ensure the development of longevity industrialization to scale and the realization of its positive effects on citizens and national economies in a socially inclusive manner, the development of the longevity economy requires national industrial strategies to finalize the evolution of nations into longevity finance states.
Developments have now reached the point where longevity industrialization can no longer be propelled by the investment and finance communities alone. Whereas the main drivers of longevity industrialization in 2022 and 2023 are investors and private industry, by 2030, the main drivers will be governments. By then, their obligation to provide systematic, regular increases in population-level HALE and Quality-Adjusted Life Years (QALY), and a reduction in Disability-Adjusted Life Years (DALY) will be apparent and will be considered a standard citizen right among the electorates in many countries. This will likely become a major electoral policy point, determining the fate of national and regional elections. Longevity will become a new political priority of the 21st century.
As longevity becomes a central issue in the public debate and influences the results of elections, the price of longevity medicine and AgeTech is expected to decrease. In 10 to 15 years, they will be affordable to most individuals, and it will be in governments’ interests to subsidize access.
In the eyes of governments, longevity is no longer a mere abstraction. The longevity era will be a new page in the history of humankind, in which older adults will hold the greatest levels of economic and political power. Instead of ignoring the needs of older adults and supercentenarians and focusing on the world’s younger demographic, governments and finance and tech corporations will strive to fulfill them.