Investing in health to create a third demographic dividend

Linda P. Fried

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations


The world is aging as a result of unprecedented successes worldwide adding 30 years of life expectancy and presenting great opportunities for all of society, but only if we invest effectively. This article, written as a requested background article for the World Health Organization 2015 World Report on Aging, proposes that creating health into the oldest ages could lay the basis for a third demographic dividend resulting from the societal benefits from the generative social capital of older adults, on top of the second demographic dividend's savings associated with longer lives. The combination would contribute to stronger and wealthier societies, greater success of the young, and increased societal ability to provide the humane supports needed at the end of life, plus a dividend that would endure. We now know that prevention works at every age and into the oldest ages. A life-course approach to prevention and health promotion is the key investment. The creation of geriatrically knowledgeable and integrated public health, medical and social care systems has the potential to amplify capabilities and well-being to the end of life. Healthy older populations bring both desire for engagement and unique talents. Institutions designed to create impactful roles for older adults to contribute to the success of the young can activate the societal benefits and further enhance health at older ages. Creating a new vision for the opportunities of an older age is the first critical step toward experiencing the benefits of our longer lives and creating a sustained third demographic dividend.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)S167-S177
StatePublished - Apr 1 2016


  • Aging population
  • Demographic dividend
  • Prevention
  • Public health systems
  • Social capital

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Gerontology
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology


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