The income umbrella (AP photo/Charles Dharapak)

It’s easy to be gloomy and assume the world will end, including in the insurance industry, but, of course, most of the time we assume that the world is about to end, it doesn’t.

Warren Buffett is a very rich man who controls the Gen Re disability insurance reinsurance and consulting business partly because he responds to other people’s assumption that the world is about to end by getting out his checkbook.

One reason to think that the world will end in the disability insurance market is that the baby boomers are getting older, and ricketier.

They had good medical care and pretty good food in their childhood, but they’ve watched an awful lot of TV and eaten an awful lot of Frankenfood since then. They are a pretty hefty group of people.

But, on the other hand: U.S. government statistics on the health of the boomers have been pretty good. The boomers might need bigger clothes than their elders did in the same stage of life, but, all other factors being held equal, they’ve been fairly able-bodied.

Now Dorien Kooij and colleagues have published a research paper suggesting another reason for hope: The researchers looked at workers’ chronological age and workers’ perspective on age, and they found that perspective on age had more to do with how the workers felt about their jobs than chronological age did.

But, if workers see 60 as the new 30, and they assume they are in pretty good health and ought to have many years of productive working life ahead of them, they tend to feel much higher self-esteem and much more engaged with work.

Maybe disability insurers and other organizations with a stake in seeing the boomers remain in the work force as long as possible could do some good simply by rebranding the 60s as the new 30s and, possibly, replacing the idea that we should never trust anyone over 30 with the idea that we should never trust people who make assumptions about people’s abilities just because their date of birth is further in the past than it used to be.

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