Una vida más larga y más próspera

Vivir por largo tiempo es uno de nuestros deseos más profundos y los avances médicos y económicos ofrecen la esperanza de que se cumpla. Algunos científicos dicen que el promedio de vida del ser humano podría alcanzar los noventa años o más para mediados de siglo. Pero ¿qué pasa si se nos concede el deseo? ¿De qué sirve una vida más larga si no podemos mantener nuestro nivel de vida?

El problema fundamental de planear una mayor longevidad es que no sabemos si realmente sucederá. La esperanza de vida bien podría ser solamente de 80 años para mediados de siglo -aproximadamente lo que es ahora en algunos países avanzados- si los avances médicos son decepcionantes o si nuevas amenazas o peligros los contrarrestan. Si tomamos previsiones para vidas largas que se vean interrumpidas, habremos gastado una enorme cantidad de recursos económicos valiosos. Pero si no hacemos previsiones para vidas que sí sean largas, muchos ancianos estarán condenados a la pobreza.

Todo el rumbo de la economía de un país depende de la longevidad. Un gran número de gente mayor implicaría un gran número de gente que desearía vivir en ciertos lugares, que buscaría cierto tipo de zonas habitacionales y que consumiría cierto tipo de servicios. De los aspectos demográficos de la demanda dependerán el tipo de compañías que tendrán éxito, los edificios que se construirán y la investigación y desarrollo que se necesitarán. Esto también se aplica en la economía global. En su libro publicado en 2005, El futuro para los inversionistas, Jeremy Siegel sostiene que las diferencias de longevidad entre los países se relacionarán con las diferencias en los niveles de riqueza para formar un determinante básico de las relaciones económicas entre los países. Los flujos de comercio estarán determinados sustancialmente por la longevidad: los países que esperan tener un número relativamente grande de ancianos en el futuro deberían tener superávits comerciales ahora y déficits después.

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