Life expectancy

Americans Are Living Healthier Longer

Nearly 2 years more of disability-free life expectancy

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EternalYouthDanPrinceCulturaCorbis
Dan Prince/Cultura/Corbis

In 1992, average life expectancy at birth in the U.S. was 75.8 years. By 2008 that had risen by over 2 years to 78.1 years. The most recent data (2013) from the Centers for Disease Control finds that it is now 78.8 years on average. A rough calculation finds that life expectancy is increasing at a rate of about 2 months for every year that passes. In general, longer life is a good, but longer healthier life is even better. The good news is that even as life expectancy lengthens, healthy life expectancy is increasing even faster, according to a new National Bureau of Economic Research study by researchers associated with Harvard University. The researchers focus on increases in life expectancy for American over age 65 and report:

Years of healthy life expectancy at age 65 increased by 1.8 years over that time period, while disabled life expectancy fell by 0.5 years….[and then] we identify the medical conditions that contribute the most to changes in healthy life expectancy. The largest improvements in healthy life expectancy come from reduced incidence and improved functioning for those with cardiovascular disease and vision problems. Together, these conditions account for 63 percent of the improvement in disability-free life expectancy.

The increase in disability-free life expectancy for Americans over age 65 is largely the result of improved medical care. Specifically, cataract surgery and prophylactic treatments that prevent heart disease such as medications to lower blood pressure have significantly reduced the incidence of disabilities experienced by earlier generations at younger ages. This is good news, but the health care system is still far away from longevity escape velocity, that is, when increases in life expectancy rise faster than the time that passes. In other words, longevity escape velocity will be achieved when instead of rising at merely 2 months per year, life expectancy lengthens faster than 12 months per year.

For more background, see my Reason cover article, "Eternal Youth for All!"

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  1. Americans Are Living Healthier Fatter Longer

  2. This just means more old people, and they completely ruin checkout lines and elections.

    1. Also, they fuck up the roads driving to and from said locations.

        1. I’m closer to old than young, so not totally.

  3. This is good news, but the health care system is still far away from longevity escape velocity, that is, when increases in life expectancy rise faster than the time that passes. In other words, longevity escape velocity will be achieved when instead of rising at merely 2 months per year, life expectancy lengthens faster than 12 months per year.

    While I like the idea of living forever, I’d much prefer doing it in the body of a 25 year old.

    1. Once living forever has been achieved it is just a matter of time before they figure out how to reverse the aging process and get you back to the body of a twenty-five year old. You just need to hold on and save up in preparation for it.

    2. It depends on the 25-year-old. I heard that Emily Ratajkowski just turned 25 so I wouldn’t mind being inside her.

      1. *high-fives geo1113*

        We live in a beautiful world, geo.

  4. Dammit, Ron, I’d just gotten that creepy kid photograph out of my head.

    1. You won’t have a dream about him watching you with an unblinking stare and reciting Eagles lyrics.

  5. According to Ron’s sources, many Americans are living shorter lives. White American men, for example.

    “Life expectancy fell for the U.S. white population in 2014 and remained flat for all population groups combined, according to data released Wednesday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, showing how increases in death rates from suicides, drug overdoses and related causes are threatening an important measure of health and prosperity.”

    Ron somehow manages the painful fact that increased death rates due to suicide and drug overdose are actually leading to shorter lives. What was Ron on about last week? The Big Lie. Ron should know.

    1. Drug overdoses and suicides are voluntary risks of death. They are much different than your heart randomly deciding not to work anymore because you’re old.

      1. “They are much different than your heart randomly deciding not to work anymore because you’re old.”

        Only they are not. Heart disease does not strike randomly. Even Ron will admit, if pressed, that it is associated with obesity and poor diet, risks people voluntarily undertake.

        Point is, life expectancy is falling. Ron, for whatever reason, doesn’t want you to know this.

  6. And still eating junk every day. Thanks McDonalds.

    http://www.Got-Anon.tk

  7. ” A rough calculation finds that life expectancy is increasing at a rate of about 2 months for every year that passes.”

    Did Zeno postulate some paradox which proves that under these conditions, death will never catch us?

    1. Sure, but he also said the entire universe is a single thing because you can’t take a piece of a piece of a piece of a piece…

      So take what you will from that.

  8. Disability-free. That’s what I’m interested in. I want a slow decline, and then a steep drop at the end.

    1. It looks like that is coming. With length increasing and disabilty-period decreasing, everyone might just suddenly drop dead.

  9. Then the LORD said, “My Spirit will not put up with humans for such a long time, for they are only mortal flesh. In the future, their normal lifespan will be no more than 120 years.” — Genesis 6:3, New Living Translation

    (Normally I prefer NIV, but this one had the better feel to it)

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