Life Expectancy to Soar--what are the social implications?greenspun.com : LUSENET : Unk's Troll-free Private Saloon : One Thread
BBC News May 9, 2002
Life expectancy to soar
There is "no sign" of a ceiling on life expectancy People are set to live increasingly long lives, and reaching 100 will soon be "commonplace", say experts.
They say that although there is no prospect of immortality, the trend for living increasingly long lives looks set to continue.
Centenarians - 100-year-olds - will become unexceptional within the lifetimes of people alive today, according to Jim Oeppen, from Cambridge University, UK, and Dr James Vaupel, from the Max Plank Institute for Demography in Rostock, Germany.
They said there was no sign there was a natural limit, as some experts had predicted.
Each time one has been suggested, it has been exceeded within five years.
Increased life expectancy
The researchers' suggestion that life expectancies could rise is based on patterns seen since 1840.
Since then, the highest average life expectancy has improved by a quarter of a year every year.
If that trend continues, the researchers say people in the country with the highest life expectancy would live to an average age of 100 in about six decades.
The researchers wrote in the journal Science: "This is far from eternity: modest annual increments in life expectancy will never lead to immortality.
"It is striking, however, that centenarians may become commonplace within the lifetimes of people living today."
Average lifespan around the world is around double what it was 200 years ago. It is now around 65 for men and 70 for women.
Japanese women are currently the likeliest to live long lives, on average reaching 84.6 years of age.
Japanese men are the second longest male survivors, reaching an average age of 77.6 years old.
The British rank well down the list. Men come in at 14th in the world table, living to an average age of 75 while women are in 18th place, living on average to 79.9.
In France, there is a big difference between men and women's life expectancy.
Men came 16th in the world table, with an average lifespan of 74.9, with French women in fourth place with a life expectancy of 82.4 years.
Mr Oeppen, senior research associate at the Cambridge Group for the History of Population and Social Structure, said: "One of the assumptions is that life expectancy will rise a bit and then reach a ceiling it cannot go through.
"But people have been assuming that since the 1920s and it hasn't proved to be the case.
"If we were close to the ceiling we might expect the survival of Japanese women now to be improving at a slower rate. But the improvement in Japan is among the fastest in the world."
He added: "I think there is a ceiling, but we don't know where it is. We haven't got there yet."
Mr Oeppen and Dr Vaupel said their predictions meant even the highest forecast for numbers of elderly people in the future could be too low, affecting decisions over pensions, health care, and other social needs.
Frank Field, Labour MP for Birkenhead and chairman of the all-party committee on pensions, welcomed the report.
He called for an independent body to be set up to examine the need for an increase in the retirement age.
He said: "If you look at life expectancy in 1948, when the state pension was introduced, and take that as a reasonable length of time to receive a pension, you would have a retirement age of 74 today."
-- (firstname.lastname@example.org), May 19, 2002
-- (maximum leader @ what's best.for you), May 19, 2002.
On the other hand, the latest issue of Scientific American contains an essay entitled "No Truth to the Fountain of Youth" in which the authors claim there is absolutely no evidence that the physical aging process can yet be slowed in any way. Yes, with better medicine (mostly preventive), and better diets and exercise and the like, we can postpone death in the sense of increasing average life spans. But the ceiling is still very real, and has not budged. Nor have we been able to prolong youth -- the added life expectancy we can get in theory does NOT postpone loss of bone or muscle mass, reduced reaction times, deteriorating hearing and vision, reduced skin elasticity, and the like -- the ravages of age. These happen strictly on schedule, regardless.
check out aging for more information.
-- Flint (email@example.com), May 19, 2002.
This research was concocted by some of Dumbya's Nazi friends at his request so that he can raise the minimum age to collect Social Security to about 85 years. All part of his NWO plan to keep people slaving away for corporations and paying more taxes so that he can give it away to his Fascist friends.
-- yep (firstname.lastname@example.org from your hero Dumbya), May 19, 2002.
Lars, in comment on Flint's observations drawn from Scientific American, go look up the Greek myth of Tithonus. The poor guy asked for immortality, but forgot to ask for perpetual youth. Turned out to be a bad bargain.
-- Little Nipper (email@example.com), May 19, 2002.
CBS TV will be saved.
-- (firstname.lastname@example.org), May 20, 2002.