Higher life expectancy a blessing, but can be a curse

23 Sep, 2022 - 00:09 0 Views
Higher life expectancy a blessing, but can be a curse

eBusiness Weekly

Kudzanai Sharara

Zimbabwe’s life expectancy levels have reportedly increased to 64,7 years from 60 years in 2017, according to the 2022 National Census results released by the Zimbabwe Statistical Agency (ZimStat).

Life expectancy at birth is the average number of years a person is expected to live if current mortality conditions at each age remains constant.

According to ZimStat, females have a higher life expectancy of 68 years while males have a life expectancy of 61,2 years.

By geography, urban areas have a higher life expectancy of 65, 5 years while rural areas have life expectancy level 63,3 years.

The latest results mean Zimbabweans are now living longer than before.

They are now able to work longer and working longer has benefits such as providing more time to build financial security that will support longer lifespans.

Longevity allows people to contribute much more to society with their skills and talents. This, however, has its limits as technology is changing at a much faster pace at which the elderly will struggle to keep up with.

In theory, the higher the life expectancy, the better shape a country is in. Generally, improvements in health and welfare increase life expectancy.

However, studies show that longer life expectancy is more problematic than beneficial because it leads to crippling effects on the elderly. It also deteriorates the quality of life of people and puts an immense burden on the younger generation financially and emotionally.

Longer life is only good when the elderly have the financial resources to look after themselves. People who have a longer life expectancy can become a burden on their children. This can lead to poor living conditions.

For Zimbabwe the situation is even more dire. For instance, there are 2, 5 people between the ages of 15 and 34 who are not in school, not in training or employment. This means their capacity to take care of the elderly is limited.

At the same time, the savings and investment levels in the country are very low.

Gross domestic savings (% of GDP) in Zimbabwe was reported at 5,854  percent in 2020, according to the World Bank collection of development indicators.

The country’s savings are very low because of low income levels which leaves too little if any to save.

High unemployment level is also a major reason for low savings

What makes Zimbabwe’s situation precarious is also the fact that most have been forced into retirement without any meaningful pension.

NSSA is paying pensioners approximately US$40, hardly enough to get by. This means the increased life expectancy comes with old age poverty.

While savings have been low, the little that has been contributed has been significantly eroded by inflation and currency depreciation.

The country has experienced several periods of hyperinflation and currency depreciation and pensioners have been left counting losses and needing to be compensated.

The solution to all this is to have policies and an environment that encourages savings.

Real interest rates on deposits is a good starting point. Macroeconomic stability and increasing employment levels cannot be over emphasised.

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