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Long-run trends of human aging and longevity

Author

Listed:
  • Holger Strulik
  • 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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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Human life span; Life expectancy; Aging; Compression of morbidity; Life-span extension; O11; I12; J13;
    All these keywords.

    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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