A triple-win scenario for ageing

Finland’s new Government Programme sends a clear message to Finland and its ageing population: the employment rate must rise for the wheels to keep turning. The government has set a goal of raising the employment rate to 75% within the next four years, but it is only a waypoint – projections indicate employment must reach at least 80% by 2030–2040 to be on the safe side.

​The financial sector has looked into ways of managing the rising age-related expenses. Many Finns have a significant portion of their wealth tied up in their home or summer house, but as people get older, they may begin to feel their home is bigger than needed or that the visits to the summer house have become few and far between. They should therefore have more options to transform this kind of wealth into purchasing power, giving them the means to raise their standards of living.

Finance Finland (FFI) has also studied how inheritors respond to the idea of having their inheritance reduced this way. If an ageing person sells his or her house or other assets, there is less wealth to transfer over to the next generation. However, according to a survey commissioned by FFI and conducted by IROResearch, three out of four people considered it a positive thing that their parents spend their wealth to finance their own well-being. A survey by the VATT Institute for Economic Research supports this finding.

It seems like an unusual triple-win scenario: the society benefits when there’s less demand for public care services, seniors benefit from their improved standards of living, and the younger generations mainly just seem happy about it.

A push in the new direction was given when the previous government introduced single-premium pension insurance policies, although it will take some time for the solutions to reach the market. Their efficient utilisation will also require some additional measures. Expectations now focus on the current government’s decisions regarding the social welfare and health care reform, hoping for a solution that enables and encourages people to voluntarily supplement the security provided by the society.

Such a solution requires a clear service promise that treats people equally across the country. This could be implemented with service vouchers, for example. The crucial part, however, is to include a policy of equal client fees in the ongoing health and social services reform. It must enable a “floating principle” – in other words it must enable people to use their own wealth to voluntarily supplement public services.

Population ageing transforms communities and affects all areas of politics and corporate businesses. Hundreds of decision-makers, corporate directors and experts on ageing will meet in Helsinki this July to discuss the silver economy with all its challenges, solutions and innovations. The Silver Economy Forum takes place in the Finlandia Hall as a part of Finland’s official EU presidency programme. It is organised jointly by The Ministry of Social Affairs and Health, Ministry of Finance, Bank of Finland, FFI and the US-based Global Coalition on Aging. The event also marks the start of the Decade of Healthy Ageing 2020–2030 plan by the United Nations.