Skip to main content

Secondary navigation:

Carroll School of Management

Living Longer

Alex Gorsky

Chairman and CEO, Johnson & Johnson

Excerpt from remarks to Boston College’s Chief Executives Club  

September 11, 2015

TAKEAWAY: Living Longer

Now, let me maybe just switch gears here a little bit and talk about the health care environment, because I can’t quote Voltaire, but I’ll do Dickens and say, you know, I think it’s a little bit of the best of times and a little bit of the worst of times. Let me start maybe with a negative so I can end on an upswing and you don’t fall asleep with a postprandial lull after eating such a great lunch.

But some of it starts, unfortunately, with the fact that we’re all living longer. Beyond that, it’s a little bit of math. So let me talk you through that. If you think about the next several decades in the United States and around the world, the average age of the population, the number of people over the age of 65 is going to increase dramatically. So some examples, right now about 12% to 15% of the population in the United States is over the age of 65. That number’s going to go to 22% to 25% over the next 30 years. That means 35 million to 70 million.

If you’re in places like Japan, they’re already at over 20% of their population. That number is going to go to 40% of their population over the next 30 years. If you’re in France, if you’re in Germany, if you’re in the U.K., you’re not far behind. It’s estimated that their populations will be somewhere between 25% and 30% because of the World War II dynamic.

It’s not only in the developed markets. If you go to the developing markets, China today has got about 150 million people over the age of 65. That number is going to 350 million. Think about that for a minute, a population the size of the United States of people over the age of 65.

Now one of the big challenges associated with that is you tend to consume about five to seven times the amount of health care after the age of 65 that you do before 65. So the good news is people are living longer, they’re living healthier lives. But the facts are they’re going to be consuming a lot more in terms of health care.