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What Happens When Average Lifespans hit 100 years old, or 150?

November 4th, 2011 · No Comments · Ideas

Big Ideas

  • Average lifespans have been increasing for more than a century.
  • Science is on the verge of substantially increasing our longevity.
  • Aging is a disease and it can be slowed.
  • Increased lifespans are already altering our economies, this is only the beginning.

Sonia Arrison, author of the recent book, 100+: How The Coming Age of Longevity Will Change Everything, From Careers and Relationships to Family And Faith, writes on her website:

We are about to enter the golden age of aging. During the Cro-Magnon era, average human life expectancy was eighteen years. By the European Renaissance it was closer to thirty. Today in the developed West it is approximately eighty. As a species we are rightfully proud of this testament to our will and ingenuity. But few among us are prepared for the revolution on our doorstep—the coming explosion of scientific know-ledge that will increase the length and quality of life in ways that were unimaginable even twenty years ago.

On my blog I wrote a post titled, You are going to live to 150 years old. I linked to three TED videos, pointing to much longer lifespans in the near future:

Dean Ornish says your genes are not your fate

Aubrey de Grey says we can avoid aging

Barry Schuler: Genomics 101

And all I can tell you is, stay healthy for 20 years. If you can stay healthy for 20 years, you’ll see 150, maybe 300.

What if we do live to 100 or 150 years old or more?

Even if you doubt the claims of the above authors and scientists, extended lifespans are already having a profound impact on our society. I have an 80 year old uncle who spends six months in Thailand every year. My 91 year old grandmother still plants her own garden. We are already living longer now  and we haven’t started implementing the key genetic research that is still being tested on animals.

Consider some of the ramifications:

  • Retirement ages must increase or government pension obligations will not be met. In my JetSetCitizen post, I wrote:

    In 1935 when the Social Security Act was implemented in the United States, average life expectancy was 59 years old. Introducing pensions to those over 65 years old seemed like a good idea because most people would die before they ever received any money. Now people are living to 78 on average in the US and even longer in other countries. There are people collecting pensions for more years than they worked.

  • 100 will be the new 60. Consider the lifestyle and activities of people aged 60 now. That’s what it will be like for 80 or 100 year-olds in the future.
  • Our medical systems will be crushed. In 1960, US health care expenditures were 5.2% of GDP. They are now about 16% and rising. The cheap revolution we have enjoyed in manufactured goods and technology, will not be experience in service industries like education and health care.

Action Items

  • If you are under 50, it is unlikely that your government will be able to afford your retirement pension. Start saving for yourself.
  • Take care of your body. Living longer won’t be enjoyable with deteriorating joints, injuries and other medical maladies. Your current lifestyle decisions will catch up with you.
  • Prepare for an extra decade or more of work. 65 is an arbitrary retirement age. It will most certainly be increased.
  • If you are under about 50, it is not too late to change your career or lifestyle. You will still have 20 or more productive work years ahead of you.
  • With decades of work ahead of you, why not travel the world or follow your dreams now?  There will be time to make up the work later if needed.

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