People almost everywhere are living longer than ever before. The global average for life expectancy climbed from about 47 years in the early 1950s to 69 years in 2010.1 The principal reasons for this are advances in medical treatments and wider access to healthcare.
Yet a closer look at the underlying numbers reveals a sharp disparity — in terms of both life span and medical need — between developed and developing regions, particularly in poorer areas worldwide. Some differences are so stark, in fact, that there is what might be called a global healthcare divide. And for investors it’s a division worth understanding.
Investing in Both Sides
In the developed world, healthcare-related areas of investment opportunity can seem attractive because they appear unambiguous: high-tech spheres such as genome sequencing and biopharmaceuticals, perhaps, or headline issues like age-related diseases and obesity, which are both growing problems in the West.
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By contrast, in the poorest parts of the developing world, investment prospects are often less apparent, perhaps even hidden, not least because they appear low-tech (e.g., providing clean water or mosquito nets) or so sizable as to be seemingly insurmountable (e.g., combating the effects of climate change). In the developing countries with relatively stronger economies, meanwhile, rising middle classes (one part of what we are calling A Transforming World) are likely to demand the type of healthcare services that are common in Western countries. Emerging investment opportunities there should become more apparent in time.
With that in mind, for investors seeking more diverse investments, or socially conscious investments, related to healthcare, seeing the larger picture is essential.
Whether in the developed world or the developing world, healthcare-related investment opportunities seem likely to grow for the foreseeable future. Being better able to recognize the opportunities on both sides of the healthcare divide is clearly important. We hope this article helps you do that. If you are considering adding healthcare-related investments, or socially conscious investments, to your portfolio, or if you would like more information on investing in healthcare in general, please contact your U.S. Trust advisor.
1Source: U.N. Population Division, 2012. Latest data available.
Investing involves risk. There is always the potential of losing money when you invest in securities.
Always consult with your independent attorney, tax advisor, investment manager and insurance agent for final recommendations and before changing or implementing any financial, tax or estate planning strategy.
OTHER IMPORTANT INFORMATION
Equity securities are subject to stock market fluctuations that occur in response to economic and business developments.
International investing involves special risks, including foreign taxation, currency risks, risks associated with possible differences in financial standards, and other risks associated with future political and economic developments. Investing in emerging markets may involve greater risks than investing in more developed countries. In addition, concentration of investments in a single region may result in greater volatility.