The Rush to a Silver Economy – Part 1

Somewhat like the Klondike Gold Rush adventure of the late 1800s, are we not now in the early 21st century, in a stampede – a new rush to a silver economy? We are not talking about the good silver that your mother used to polish and lay out when important company was coming for dinner. We are talking about the potential hidden treasures of the gray or silver haired aging citizen. You can almost hear the growing whisper – “there’s silver in them there demographic hills!”

silver-economyOf course, in the Klondike days, as legendary as they are, not everyone had a map, not everyone knew where to pan for gold. And according to an entry in Canadian Encyclopedia, “upon arrival, many never even bothered to look for gold.” There were winners and casualties back then in a fast changing world economy. Sound familiar? Well with today’s shift in demographics if you want to be relevant and take advantage of the treasures, you will need to bother to look before you even ask for a map.

Within the context of this silver economy, this new Klondike adventure, similar threads apply; that the story in this global adventure has more than one plot line involving more than one group of players set against a backdrop of rapid change, with multiple social, scientific, political and economic opportunities and outcomes. What will our world become along the path in this demographic shift?

Over the last fifteen years, since I began my trek into the longevity revolution discussion, significant insights and perspectives in and of a larger narrative have taken place; but these stay somehow outside the conversation range, sometimes not always relatable or immediate enough to everyday people. Even mainstream media, businesses, governments and other organizations seem trapped in the language of an old and/or narrow narrative.

However, we are at a point of inflection and there is no reason to give up on bringing the story of the rush to a silver economy to challenge people to see beyond the immediate. There is now a great baseline for this new narrative, that lately I have found showing up in more than one place, in more than one conversation. It begins with a masterful piece titled “The Silver Economy as a Pathway for Growth”.

A collaborative effort between three groups: the OECD, the Global Coalition on Aging and the University of Oxford – Harris Manchester College; this 2014 compilation of insights as they call it, really drills it down to five well-articulated interconnected themes:

• Policy reforms for 21st century demographic change
• Technology solutions to empower the aging
• Innovative new models of finance to drive the silver market
• Flexible models for careers and pensions
• Social entrepreneurship

You would have to ask, with this kind of focused talking points – how could anyone fail to see a way of making sense of how their business, or community can find a place in this rush to a silver economy?

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