Longer lifespans invite questions about paying for extra years


A new study I read about in The Financial Times of London finds that we have made more progress with lifespan during the last 100 years than we did in the prior 200,000 years!

The article’s headline proclaimed, “72 is the new 30.” Effectively that means if somebody makes it to age 72 today, their remaining lifespan is equal to somebody who reached age 30 about 100 years ago. So on average, that means you have 15 more years of life if you reach 72.

Average lifespan in the United States used to be 45, but today it’s around 78. And we aren’t even the world leader in lifespan.

Among the factors that have contributed to the increase in lifespan are antibiotics and vaccines; the agriculture revolution that has dramatically increased the amount of food we can produce; and the prevalence of clean water.

Having said that, sadly still a billion people don’t have access to clean water.

Here’s a funny story. My family never knows what to give me for a gift; they say I’m very hard to shop for. So at the last special occasion, they made a donation in my name to fund a clean water system for a village in the Third World. I thought that was cool because access to clean water reduces infant mortality so much.

So the great news is we have had an enormous increase in lifespan around the world. But how do we pay for that? My mom is 88 and is ill right now with bronchitis. Her treatment is very expensive, yet I would never stop her treatment because of that.

But we’ve got to dedicate more thought to how we pay for our increased lifespans.

  • Show Comments Hide Comments