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Aruba, February 27, 2013 - As the great midlife migration of baby boomers gathers momentum and scale, long-predicted revolutions in longevity and demography are unfolding in front of us. By 2015 we'll have more Americans over 60 than under 15 — and that's just the beginning. Demographers are predicting that more than half the children born in the developed world since 2000 will live to 100.

For the most part this transformation is portrayed as a source of coming economic, fiscal, and generational strife. In this scenario, boomers are entering their 60's, morphing overnight into retirees, and proceeding to weigh down a small group of workers in their middle years — producing an unbearable dependency ratio in the process.

But it doesn't have to be this way. Today tens of millions of 50-, 60-, and 70-somethings say they are eager to apply their accumulated skills in areas like education, health, and the environment. According to research from 2011, some 31 million people ages 44 to 70 want encore careers that allow them to continue earning a living and give them meaning that has an impact beyond themselves. They want to create a better world for future generations.

Turning dependence into abundance begins with breaking free from the "golden years" narrative of retirement. This is a tale first pioneered by insurance companies in the 1950s to convince older Americans that they weren't being ejected from the productive workforce, but rather had the freedom from work. This storyline is enjoying a resurgence today.

Consider Prudential's recent marketing campaign, prominently featuring Day One stories — tales of the first day of retirement. The company's ads and billboards warn of longer retirements. One tells us that we can expect to spend 6,000 days — nearly two decades — in retirement, while others state the first person to live to 150 is already alive. The tagline: "Let's get ready for a longer retirement." The billboards are paired with other ads that paint a picture of a perfect retirement. One individual featured suggests we should work to live, not the other way around. But can anyone afford an 85-year retirement? Is that sustainable for the nation?

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