How do Blue Zoners pay for their healthy, longer lives?

This week on The Big Middle, a podcast postcard from the five Blue Zones. You likely know it was journalist Dan Buettner who first put these five pockets of longevity on the world’s radar with his piece in National Geographic in 2005.

Each is home to more 90 and 100-year-olds than usual, all living without chronic illness or disability. Dan wrote about their habits – how they live, what they eat, how much exercise they get. But he didn’t tell us much about how they finance their longer lives. That’s our focus now. Fellow journalist Richard Eisenberg, the managing editor of Next Avenue, has done a Blue Zones money tour. He joins us from Westfield, New Jersey.


  • Costa Rica’s Nicoya Peninsula Blue Zoners benefit from strong family ties and government support
  • Preventative care home visits from government health ambassadors every three months
  • Heartwarming story of 103-year-old former farmhand adopted and financed by his boss at 75
  • None worry about lack of money – family and friends will care for them
  • Frugality and simplicity feature throughout their healthy, longer lives

    “They don’t feel like they need very much. Spending money is not something that is very important to them. There’s no status symbol culture down there. They’re very content with what they have.”

  • The concepts of ‘ikigai’ and ‘moai’, anti-debt attitude, provision of government health and long-term care, and strong community relationships underpin healthy, longer lives in Okinawa, Japan
  • Blue Zoners of Sardinia, Italy: similar lifestyle ingredients – strong family and community ties, no debt, little spending, excellent government health care and pensions

    “Everyone very much helps each other and there is great respect for older people.”

  • Ikaria, Greece: “the island where people forget to die.”
  • 60% of nonagenarians and centenarians regularly exercise
  • All five longevity pockets are stress-free zones
  • Loma Linda, California: lifestyle habits factor large in why so many healthy elderly; Seventh Day Adventists are avid exercisers who don’t drink or smoke
  • Blue Zone outlier, disciplined savers and investors
  • Bible study groups and friendship circles foster strong spiritual and social connections
  • What most surprising about attitudes to money and work across Blue Zones?
  • Lessons for First World policymakers?
  • Thoughts on ageism and financial aspect of longevity in US and other developed countries


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