The New Meaning of Risk in the Age of Longevity

Dr. Ira Sobel
February 20, 2023

Welcome to the 8th edition of the Financial Longevity Newsletter by Fintech for Longevity. The current edition and all subsequent editions will contain information about our activities and present you with a curated collection of global developments at the intersection of longevity, finance and technology.

The New Meaning of Risk in the Age of Longevity

Longevity changes the meaning of risk beyond the well-known longevity and mortality risks.  It is influenced by risk factors that are embedded in the aging process, such as the transition to retirement and deteriorating health. These transitions may take over one or more decades in the era of longevity.

The Longevity Society as a Risk Society

The term “Risk Society” was coined by the German Sociologist Ulrich Beck in his book of the same name in 1992. In the book, Beck claims that in modern society the individual has become the sole unit responsible for protecting himself against different types of risks, in a process called “individualization of risk”. Beck uses the Nuclear Disaster in Chornobyl [1] to demonstrate the welfare state’s limited capabilities in providing a safety net to its citizens, by redistributing resources from the rich to the poor; thus, the individual remains responsible for the residual risks uncovered by the state.

Naturally, the individualization of risk varies by context. For example, in Europe, it is the shift of responsibility from the state to its citizens while in the US (which never purported to be a welfare state) it means the shifting of risk from employers to employees. In addition, the individualization of risk has implications beyond the economic domain, the shift from DB to DC pension models, or the increasing out-of-pocket medical expenses. For example, it is accompanied by a growing awareness of individuals for uncertainties. The individualization of risk also implies one’s awareness of the need to finance a longer life, to be well prepared for long periods of long-term care, and mitigate the economic ramifications of late-life transitions through risk-mitigation financial products.

More broadly, the changing meaning of risk for the aging population is characterized by switching from relying on collective protections against declines in health and wealth to using novel out-of-the-box risk-mitigation products. Sadly, the family’s role as caregivers must compensate for the retrenchment of traditional safety nets.

Beyond longevity and mortality risks – late life transitions  

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Life-course transitions are key in our life, as they explain the relationship between continuity and change from childhood to old age. Transitions are defined among the Life Course scholars as “changes in status that are discrete and bounded in duration, although their consequences may be long term.”  Taking into account timing, sequences, and durations, the nature of transitions is represented by a discrete change in social and age-related roles which have a long-term effect. At the same time, transitions are key not only to understand the economic standing of mid-life and older adults but only to understanding their long-term ramifications.

The economic risks of older adulthood are amplified by the changing nature of prevalent life transitions during later stages of the life course, such as the transition from work to retirement, from good health to deteriorating health, and from spousal life to widowhood. The probability, timing, traits, and duration of these transitions involve much uncertainty, while the effect of these transitions on one’s wealth, income, employability, debt consumption and economic reliance on the family is no less uncertain.

As the safety net that countries provide to their aging adults is getting smaller, the economic risks of aging remain unchanged or even amplified. Those risks are being transitioned to citizens, individuals, families, and market participants (via banks and insurance companies). This shift occurs and therefore older adults involuntarily work longer, become more dependent on their adult children, consume more credit, and cut their expenses to a level that may not provide them with an adequate standard of living.

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All of that, of course, becomes more pronounced as life expectancy increases and as the population gets older, as is occurring around the globe. Lifestyles are changing in response to a longer life span; the retirement stage becomes longer, with more and more seniors alternating between work and retirement for a period that could exceed a decade.

In the era of longevity, deteriorating health is extended as well. People are living longer but with that may come longer periods of disabilities, slowly deteriorating health and cognitive decline.

Using data and AI to moderate the risks of life transitions on households' wealth

The impact of life transition on the economic well-being of older adults presents many opportunities to stakeholders in the aging ecosystem. Financial service providers may better serve their aging clients (and thus obtain an edge over the competition) if they can predict life changes before they occur, or in their early stage, and provide their clients with new services and products that may assist them in the new reality they face. New technologies, such as using big data and artificial intelligence, may be used to help predict these life transitions.

In this way, financial service providers may help moderate the economic consequences of unavoidable life transitions facing older adults and assist with their eventual transition to receiving financial care from their chosen assistants.

For more on the economic risks associated with aging the effect of aging on the economy and the huge opportunity of the "longevity economy", you are invited to our academic program. The Financial Longevity Leadership Program offered by the FinTech for Longevity Academy is an eight-week online live program. The program is led by Prof. Yigal Newman and Dr Ira Sobel, by discussing the various implications of the intersection of Fintech and longevity, and providing valuable information and networking opportunities to those interested in the field.

The next cohort of the Financial Longevity Leadership Program starts on June 9th, 2022! Registration is still open with a few more seats left. For more information and early enrolment please visit our program's page , send us an email to, or read an article about the program on media platform.



Fintech for Longevity was announced as an industry leader by the AARP Innovation Labs / AgeTech Collaborative™. We are excited to participate in the coming roundtable on Fintech for older adults on June 16th. The discussion will cover the following issues:

  • The slow adoption rate of FinTech solutions among the 50+ despite needing advice in the financial realm
  • The lack of trust amongst consumers 50+ of FinTech firms compared to traditional financial firms
  • The opportunity for shared finance tools with 50+ online communities, particularly for caregiving
  • The identified need for estate planning and decumulation advice across all age groups

Fintech and aging and becoming more more institutionalized in the discussions on aging, longevity and technology.

More news

We are excited to meet (finally F2F) our friends and colleagues at Birdhouse accelerator in Antwerp the second week of June. Birdhouse launched an Aging & Longevity accelerator program in 2021 to support start-ups that focus on the economy of living longer. In partnership with Belfius Insurance, Birdhouse is looking for innovation in Aging & Longevity that can be supported by their network and in-house expertise. More information about the accelerator can be found here.


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Thank you for reading our Newsletter! For previous editions of this newsletter, please click here (#4), here (#5), here (#6) and here (#7).

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About Fintech for Longevity:

@Fintech for Longevity is a novel platform that bridges financial technology and financial inclusion. By focusing on the global aging trend, our objective is to help global organizations, FinTech startups, banks, insurance companies and other financial institutions around the world prepare for the trend of aging and the future of longevity. We do so through research, education and digital adoption strategies.

For more information about our services, please reach out to us by email at


[1] For those who don’t remember, the reactor explosion in Chornobyl 36 years ago was directly responsible for killing 100 nuclear engineers on site. In addition, radiation released during the explosion affected water supply and agricultural production thousands of miles away – far outside the borders of the then-USSR - and had dramatic effects, from physical and mental disorders to increased abortions rate.

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