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The New Demographic Transition: Most Gains in Life Expectancy Now Realized Late in Life

  • Karen N. Eggleston
  • Victor R. Fuchs

The share of increases in life expectancy realized after age 65 was only about 20 percent at the beginning of the 20th century for the United States and 16 other countries at comparable stages of development; but that share was close to 80 percent by the dawn of the 21st century, and is almost certainly approaching 100 percent asymptotically. This new demographic transition portends a diminished survival effect on working life. For high-income countries at the forefront of the longevity transition, expected lifetime labor force participation as a percent of life expectancy is declining. Innovative policies are needed if societies wish to preserve a positive relationship running from increasing longevity to greater prosperity.

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File URL: http://www.aeaweb.org/articles.php?doi=10.1257/jep.26.3.137
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Article provided by American Economic Association in its journal Journal of Economic Perspectives.

Volume (Year): 26 (2012)
Issue (Month): 3 (Summer)
Pages: 137-56

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Handle: RePEc:aea:jecper:v:26:y:2012:i:3:p:137-56
Note: DOI: 10.1257/jep.26.3.137
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  1. Dora L. Costa, 2000. "From Mill Town to Board Room: The Rise of Women's Paid Labor," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 14(4), pages 101-122, Fall.
  2. Goldin, Claudia, 1992. "Understanding the Gender Gap: An Economic History of American Women," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780195072709, March.
  3. Ronald Lee, 2003. "The Demographic Transition: Three Centuries of Fundamental Change," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 17(4), pages 167-190, Fall.
  4. Timothy W. Guinnane, 2011. "The Historical Fertility Transition: A Guide for Economists," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 49(3), pages 589-614, September.
  5. Kevin S. Milligan & David A. Wise, 2011. "Social Security and Retirement around the World: Historical Trends in Mortality and Health, Employment, and Disability Insurance Participation and Reforms - Introduction and Summary," NBER Working Papers 16719, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Dora L. Costa, 1998. "The Evolution of Retirement: An American Economic History, 1880-1990," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number cost98-1.
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