The article sketches some recent advances in understanding and manipulating the epi-genetic roots of ageing, and draws attention to the potential economic value of coming changes in the age profile of emerging economies:
The income-linked value of survival means that the most impressive gains [from greater longevity] are occurring, not in high-income countries such as the United States or Australia but in emerging economies such as China and India. Here, the added value is world-changing. The enormous size of their populations and their much greater ‘head-room’ for healthy life span improvements (they start from a lower base) lead to galactic gains. For example, the value of a statistical life-year in India has been assessed (2003) as US$10,000 to US$20,000. Given India’s gains in life expectancy of about 25 years since 1950, and a population in 2000 of about 1 billion, the gains in life expectancy in India alone over the period are worth about US$400 trillion (about four times the gains in the United States in the last three decades of 20th century).