The new future of old age

Policy Mag cover

I have a feature article on recent remarkable changes in the outlook for longevity in the current (Winter 2011) edition of Policy, the journal of the Centre for Independent Studies.

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).

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