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New Report from AARP Explores the Longevity Economy



Guest post by Theodora Lau*

By 2015, there were more than 1.6 billion people in the world who were part of the 50-plus cohort. By 2050, this number is projected to double to nearly 3.2 billion people. Throughout the world, the growth of this age group is having a transformative impact, economically and socially. The United States alone is home to 111 million in the 50-plus demographic, representatives of a powerful force driving economic growth and value. AARP has branded the group the Longevity Economy, because it represents the sum of all economic activity driven by the needs of Americans aged 50 and older, and includes both products and services they purchase directly and the further economic activity this spending generates.

The difference it makes is substantial. In the first Longevity Economy report released in 2013 by AARP and Oxford Economics, the Longevity Economy fostered $7.1 trillion in annual economic activity. This figure has now been revised to $7.6 trillion in the latest report. The out-sized contribution reflects the changing demographics, wealth, and spending patterns of the 50-plus population as the lifespan increases and the Longevity Economy becomes more pervasive and central to economic and social policies.

Key findings from this report include the following:

  • The 50-plus cohort represented approximately 35% of the U.S. population in 2015 and was responsible for over $7.6 trillion in annual economic activity—roughly 42% of total U.S. gross domestic product (GDP).
  • Direct spending on consumer goods and services, including health care, by those aged 50 and older, amounted to $5.6 trillion in 2015.
  • Approximately $1.8 trillion in federal, state and local taxes were attributable to the Longevity Economy in 2015—about 34% of federal tax revenue and 41% of state and local tax revenue collected in the U.S.

The economic contributions of the Longevity Economy are evident, and the beneficiaries are not limited to those over 50. In fact, the spending of the Longevity Economy supports more than 89.4 million jobs (61% of all U.S. jobs) and over $4.7 trillion in labor income.

As Jody Holtzman, senior vice president of market innovation at AARP, would often say:” Why would you leave money on the table by ignoring the only humongous growth-market that exists?!” So the question for entrepreneurs and VCs is simply this: What is your 50+ strategy?

The Longevity Economy Report is available for download at:

For more information about AARP’s technology innovation initiatives and how AARP sparks innovation in the marketplace for the benefit of people over 50, please visit:

*Theodora Lau is director of enterprise strategy and innovation at AARP. You may contact her for more information at