The Old Shall Inherit the Earth

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In 1900, the average life expectancy for a newborn was 47.3 years; by 2003, it had reached 77.6 years. But people who turned 65 in 2000 could expect to live much longer, another 18 years. These increases are due not just to medical advances in treating chronic illnesses such as heart disease but also to people adopting healthier lifestyles.

That's from an SF Chron writeup of a new Census Bureau report on the aging of America.

Details here.

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  1. Does this mean they’re going to bring “Matlock” back?

  2. And there will be an Old Country Buffet on every street corner, just like Starbucks now.

  3. These increases are due not just to medical advances in treating chronic illnesses such as heart disease but also to people adopting healthier lifestyles.

    Save the Planet from overcrowding, eat more red meat!!

  4. How does one reconcile the notion that people are living longer in part due to healthier lifestyles with the notion that as a nation we are increasingly obese?

    Also, how much of the rise in obesity is due to the fact that people seem to put on weight when they give up smoking? Has anyone studied this, and if so how do the national numbers look for those who have never had to give up smoking because they never started in the first place?

    Another question: Are there numbers stating the life expectancy after someone reaches the age of 1 or something like that? In particular I’d like to see what the international comparisons are, and just how much can be explained away by infant deaths being higher in some countries than others.

    I’d be happy with links instead of posts if that helps. Thanks to anyone who knows if such numbers even exist.

  5. In 1900, the average life expectancy for a newborn was 47.3 years

    I always wondered about stats like this. When you read it, the natural interpretation is that most people lived to about 47. But that’s not really what this means, right? Surely the average was brought way down by so many infants dying soon after childbirth (and to a lesser extent younger children being susceptible to then-common diseases like scarlet fever). It seems like a more meaningful comparison for the purposes of this discussion would be the average life expectancy of people who had reached, say, 10 years old.

  6. What the ….? “adopting healthier lifestyles”??

    I thought we are in the midst of an obesity crisis and we are all going to die before we reach 65. These reports are playing hell with my retirement planning

  7. “Surely the average was brought way down by so many infants dying soon after childbirth”

    …and 2 world wars

  8. I think the resolution of the paradox might be that old people are living healthier than old people used to* while young people are living less healthy than young people used to.**

    *Probably because they are retired and have time to be more physically active, eat healthier and pay more attention to their medical care.

    **Probably because their daily recreation (as kids) and daily work (as adults) involves a lot less physical activity than it used to.

  9. There are at least two possible readings of the above passage:

    I. People who reach 65 will continue, on average, for another 18 years, to the age of 83.

    II. People who reach 65 will continue, on average, to live 18 years longer than their 65 y.o. counterparts a century ago.

    Only a statistic like the latter could justify the claim that seniors are much healthier these days, and that our treatment of chronic illness has substantially improved, etc. I just can’t tell if that’s what they’re actually claiming.

  10. I’d love to see someone track healthcare spending against these lifespan increases over the past century. Cause I wonder what kind of returns we get at the spending margins we have been pulling real, real hard at these past 20 years.

  11. There are at least two possible readings of the above passage:

    I. People who reach 65 will continue, on average, for another 18 years, to the age of 83.

    II. People who reach 65 will continue, on average, to live 18 years longer than their 65 y.o. counterparts a century ago.

    Only a statistic like the latter could justify the claim that seniors are much healthier these days, and that our treatment of chronic illness has substantially improved, etc. I just can’t tell if that’s what they’re actually claiming.

  12. How does one reconcile the notion that people are living longer in part due to healthier lifestyles with the notion that as a nation we are increasingly obese?

    I think it means that fat smokers are the healthiest people of all. A fat, smoker friend of mine once rationalized: “Hey, the heart is like a muscle, so with all the work I put it through, I must have the strongest heart of anybody.” Makes sense to me.

  13. Robots! We need more robots!

  14. My grandmother is at least 100 years old, 101 in July if she makes it.

    http://wrightwing.net/2006/02/07/14/06/240

    She is a skinny little lady, was never heavy in my memory. So she has lived well past double the expected life time of someone born in 1905.

    And she still makes more sense than Bill O’Reilly.

  15. Quick someone call Leon Kass so we can start kavorkianing these old farts before society collapses!!

  16. Is it the bible which states that man’s term on earth is three score and 10.

    Maybe that’s after age 5?

  17. Here’s the first Google hit on “historical life expectancy”. As some have guessed, the improvements go way down after age 10 – maybe all that crap done “for the children” had some effect? Meanwhile, 80-year-olds only get two extra years after all this time, implying (to me) that once you hit 80, you may as well blow your health-care money on craps.

    http://www.infoplease.com/ipa/A0005140.html

  18. Back Teela!
    That was the command for the elephant on the Sealtest BigTop which was on TV beginning 11 Eastern and 10 Central on Saturday morns many moons ago.

    Back you wormy whippersnappers, we geezers will trample you.

  19. “once you hit 80, you may as well blow your health-care money on craps.”

    CTD,
    You’re not talkin’ regularity, are you?

  20. Independent worm, even though your heart is a muscle and working it out is good. If you overwork your heart it will grow to big and that will kill you. For example my uncle who was a workaholic, never smoked ciggarettes or drugs, and is reasonably thin has a heart that is about twice the normal size of other peoples is dying very quickly.

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