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Long-run trends of human aging and longevity

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  • Holger Strulik

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  • Sebastian Vollmer

    ()

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 developed by bio-gerontologists 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 mid-twentieth century but increased since then in sync with life expectancy. In other words, we find evidence for manufactured life span. Copyright The Author(s) 2013

Suggested Citation

  • Holger Strulik & Sebastian Vollmer, 2013. "Long-run trends of human aging and longevity," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 26(4), pages 1303-1323, October.
  • Handle: RePEc:spr:jopoec:v:26:y:2013:i:4:p:1303-1323
    DOI: 10.1007/s00148-012-0459-z
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Matteo Cervellati & Uwe Sunde, 2013. "Life Expectancy, Schooling, and Lifetime Labor Supply: Theory and Evidence Revisited," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 81(5), pages 2055-2086, September.
    2. David de la Croix & Omar Licandro, 2015. "The longevity of famous people from Hammurabi to Einstein," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 20(3), pages 263-303, September.
    3. Abeliansky, Ana Lucia & Strulik, Holger, 2017. "How we fall apart: Similarities of human aging in 10 European countries," Center for European, Governance and Economic Development Research Discussion Papers 301, University of Goettingen, Department of Economics.
    4. Schünemann, Johannes & Strulik, Holger & Trimborn, Timo, 2016. "The gender gap in mortality: How much is explained by behavior?," ECON WPS - Vienna University of Technology Working Papers in Economic Theory and Policy 05/2016, Vienna University of Technology, Institute for Mathematical Methods in Economics, Research Group Economics (ECON).
    5. Trimborn, Timo & Schünemann, Johannes & Strulik, Holger, 2016. "Disentangling the Gender Gap in Longevity," Annual Conference 2016 (Augsburg): Demographic Change 145570, Verein für Socialpolitik / German Economic Association.
    6. Strulik, Holger, 2017. "Smoking kills: An economic theory of addiction, health deficit accumulation, and longevity," Center for European, Governance and Economic Development Research Discussion Papers 316, University of Goettingen, Department of Economics.
    7. Volker Grossmann & Holger Strulik, 2015. "Optimal Social Insurance and Health Inequality," CESifo Working Paper Series 5604, CESifo Group Munich.
    8. Schünemann, Johannes & Strulik, Holger & Trimborn, Timo, 2017. "Going from bad to worse: Adaptation to poor health health spending, longevity, and the value of life," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 140(C), pages 130-146.
    9. Wang, Qingfeng & Sun, Xu, 2016. "The Role of Socio-political and Economic Factors in Fertility Decline: A Cross-country Analysis," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 87(C), pages 360-370.
    10. Strulik, Holger, 2011. "Optimal Aging with Uncertain Death," Hannover Economic Papers (HEP) dp-488, Leibniz Universität Hannover, Wirtschaftswissenschaftliche Fakultät.
    11. repec:bla:scotjp:v:64:y:2017:i:5:p:501-529 is not listed on IDEAS
    12. Hughes, Barry B. & Kuhn, Randall & Margolese-Malin, Eli S. & Rothman, Dale S. & Solórzano, José R., 2015. "Opportunities and challenges of a world with negligible senescence," Technological Forecasting and Social Change, Elsevier, vol. 99(C), pages 77-91.
    13. D. Dragone & H. Strulik, 2017. "Human Health and Aging over an Infinite Time Horizon," Working Papers wp1104, Dipartimento Scienze Economiche, Universita' di Bologna.
    14. Nuarpear Lekfuangfu, 2016. "Mortality Risk and Human Capital Investment: The Legacy of Landmines in Cambodia," PIER Discussion Papers 35., Puey Ungphakorn Institute for Economic Research, revised Jul 2016.
    15. Jochen Mierau & Stephen Turnovsky, 2014. "Capital accumulation and the sources of demographic change," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 27(3), pages 857-894, July.
    16. Strulik, Holger & Trimborn, Timo, 2016. "Hyperbolic discounting can be good for your health," ECON WPS - Vienna University of Technology Working Papers in Economic Theory and Policy 11/2016, Vienna University of Technology, Institute for Mathematical Methods in Economics, Research Group Economics (ECON).
    17. Hirazawa, Makoto & Yakita, Akira, 2017. "Labor supply of elderly people, fertility, and economic development," Journal of Macroeconomics, Elsevier, vol. 51(C), pages 75-96.
    18. Casper Worm Hansen & Holger Strulik, 2017. "Life expectancy and education: evidence from the cardiovascular revolution," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 22(4), pages 421-450, December.
    19. Abeliansky, Ana Lucia & Strulik, Holger, 2017. "Hungry children age faster," Center for European, Governance and Economic Development Research Discussion Papers 322, University of Goettingen, Department of Economics.
    20. David de la Croix, 2015. "Did Longer Lives Buy Economic Growth? From Malthus to Lucas and Ben-Porath," Discussion Papers (IRES - Institut de Recherches Economiques et Sociales) 2015012, Université catholique de Louvain, Institut de Recherches Economiques et Sociales (IRES).
    21. repec:eee:joecag:v:6:y:2015:i:c:p:5-12 is not listed on IDEAS
    22. repec:eee:jhecon:v:54:y:2017:i:c:p:79-90 is not listed on IDEAS
    23. Boumezoued, Alexandre & Karoui, Nicole El & Loisel, Stéphane, 2017. "Measuring mortality heterogeneity with multi-state models and interval-censored data," Insurance: Mathematics and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 72(C), pages 67-82.
    24. Holger Strulik & Katharina Werner, 2016. "50 is the new 30—long-run trends of schooling and retirement explained by human aging," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 21(2), pages 165-187, June.
    25. Böhm, Sebastian & Grossmann, Volker & Strulik, Holger, 2017. "The Future of Human Health, Longevity, and Health Costs," Annual Conference 2017 (Vienna): Alternative Structures for Money and Banking 168288, Verein für Socialpolitik / German Economic Association.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Human life span; Life expectancy; Aging; Compression of morbidity; Life-span extension; O11; I12; J13;

    JEL classification:

    • O11 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Macroeconomic Analyses of Economic Development
    • I12 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Health Behavior
    • J13 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Fertility; Family Planning; Child Care; Children; Youth

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