Researchers set out to study longevity as it relates to income level and what they found was astonishing. There exists a surprising link between extreme longevity and high unemployment rates, like those in many Latin American countries. Research has shown that the world’s healthiest places, with the most centenarians, are actually isolated from the economy, as we know it, and these individuals report high unemployment rates as well. Researchers then questioned not only how they are able to live long lives, but now also to how can they afford to live, being that many are unemployed? Well, these centenarians practice what is known as a “gift economy”; that is offering what you can to family and friends around you and in turn, they do the same for you. The study reported these individuals had a strong sense of belonging, and these strong community ties were attributed to their reported overall increased sense of wellbeing, which explains for the most part their higher life expectancy.
“Solidarity and community have bigger impacts on our quality of life and life expectancy than diet, smoking, sport, genetic predisposition, medicaments or operations.”
– Dr Dean Ornish, Professor of Medicine at University of California, San Francisco
So what else can we learn from these individuals? The study also revealed that the healthiest people in the world don’t travel much, they take care of their families and neighbours by sharing any surplus they have, they enjoy a slow lifestyle, and have little need for money. You can see the “Gift Economy” active in Costa Ballena, whether it’s a neighbour bringing an extra rack of ripe bananas for you to enjoy, or a community plant swap, residents here have caught on to the “Gift Economy” and are quickly feeling the benefits such sharing creates in their everyday lives.