The Straits Times says

Unlocking society's longevity dividend

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Much as women once were considered second-tier citizens when it came to their joining the workforce, many seniors around the world today carry the stigma of being considered a burden on society. The anti-feminine mindset, an extremely limiting one, gradually gave way to the inclusion of women in the workforce in ways that have revolutionised production, among other areas. Today, no one would imagine the possibility of the return to a workforce that is largely male. Likewise, an anti-senior mindset fails to recognise the economic and social potential of the aged. Such attitudes have no place particularly in a country like Singapore because narrow mindsets fail to unlock the longevity dividend - the potential of people to contribute as they age.

That potential was clearly manifest on Thursday when historian Wang Gungwu and literary pioneer Suratman Markasan, both 91, became the oldest recipients of the Singapore Literature Prize. Like many other celebrated seniors, both demonstrate that age is an opportunity to undertake new adventures - not an impediment. They should inspire all Singaporeans to take a fresh look at seniors and their role. A change of attitude would help not only seniors themselves but also others who can benefit from the institutional knowledge and earned wisdom of elders. It is not for nothing that ancient societies, such as aboriginal Australia or pre-modern Africa, exalted the elderly. Those societies understood, in the words of one proverb, how it takes an entire village to bring up a child - and therefore how villages benefit from the accumulated wisdom of elders passed down through the generations.

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