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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