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Long-Run Trends of Human Aging and Longevity

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Author Info

  • Holger Strulik
  • Sebastian Vollmer

    ()
    (Harvard Center for Population and Development Studies)

Abstract

Over the last 200 years humans experienced a huge increase of life expectancy. These advances were largely driven by extrinsic improvements of their environment (for example, the available diet, disease prevalence, vaccination, and the state of hygiene and sanitation). In this paper we ask whether future improvements of life-expectancy will be bounded from above by human life-span. Life-span, in contrast to life-expectancy, is conceptualized as a biological measure of longevity driven by the intrinsic rate of bodily deterioration. In order to pursue our question we first present a modern theory of aging and show that immutable life-span would put an upper limit on life-expectancy. We then show for a sample of developed countries that human life-span thus defined was indeed constant until the 1950s but increased since then by about eight years in sync with life-expectancy. In other words, we find evidence for manufactured life-span.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Program on the Global Demography of Aging in its series PGDA Working Papers with number 7311.

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Date of creation: Aug 2011
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Handle: RePEc:gdm:wpaper:7311

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Web page: http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/pgda
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Keywords: human life-span; life-expectancy; aging; compression of mortality; life-span extension;

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References

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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. David de la Croix & Omar Licandro, 2012. "The Longevity of Famous People from Hammurabi to Einstein," Working Papers 666, Barcelona Graduate School of Economics.
  2. Cervellati, Matteo & Sunde, Uwe, 2013. "Life Expectancy, Schooling, and Lifetime Labor Supply: Theory and Evidence Revisited," IZA Discussion Papers 7286, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  3. Strulik, Holger, 2013. "Optimal aging with uncertain death," Center for European, Governance and Economic Development Research Discussion Papers 160, University of Goettingen, Department of Economics.

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