Beyond ageing societies is a foresight project that investigates and assesses the state of future societies where a rapidly ageing population, a process that has also already started in Finland, is a reality. What will our societies look like when the majority of the population are over 65 and living to a hundred is quite normal?


Food for thought.


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Japan is a perfect test-bed for examining the ageing society of the future. While the Japanese population is ageing more rapidly than in almost all other countries, the World Health Organization reports that they enjoy the longest healthy lifespans in the world, retaining their physical, social and cognitive abilities. On average, today’s 75-year-olds in Japan are in good health and have no chronic illnesses or disabilities that prevent them living full lives. Pensioners are usually in a financially sustainable situation, supported by various pension and health insurance systems that bolster their health and well-being.

“Japan is the laboratory of the world where everything happens ten years before the rest of the world wakes up.”

The Economist Intelligence Unit

The majority of people aged over 70 in Japan wish to continue working. Regardless of the extended deflation and financial market crisis, Japan is an intriguing example of how we can adapt and build a well-functioning future in the era of both population ageing and an extended period of sluggish economic growth.

The Beyond ageing societies foresight project seeks to discover how different societal systems will change in societies faced with ever-ageing populations. What will the emerging society full of people living to a ripe old age be like? How can one structure one’s life when, instead of the traditional life stages of schooling and employment, it contains several new phases of change and transition? How can productivity and development that relies on automation, robotics and artificial intelligence be maintained? How will societies, legislative efforts by governments, education systems, employers and social policy change in the face of the pressure created by lengthening lifespans? How can a new social and political balance be found, and a social contract between different generations be concluded?


Ask, tell, comment.

Teppo Turkki
Science, technology and innovation councelor , Finnish Embassy in Tokyo, Business Finland

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