Jack Uldrich
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When the “Unusual” Becomes Usual

Posted in Health Care

It was recently reported that US life expectancy topped 78 years as a variety of diseases—including heart disease, diabetes and flu—decreased this past year.

More interestingly, life expectancy—which has been increasing about two or three months from year to year—jumped an impressive four months this year. This caused one demographer to note that the increase was “an unusually rapid improvement.”

It was “an usually rapid improvement,” but I’d like to argue that such rapid improvements will become “usual” for the foreseeable future. If one tracks the amazing rate of progress in biotechnology, genomics, stem cell research and nanotechnology; it is hard—barring a devastating calamity that kills thousands or millions of people—to envision how life expectancy will do anything but continue to increase at an accelerating rate.

At a minimum, given the existing pressure on such social programs as Social Security and Medicare, it seems only prudent that we should at least begin preparing for life expectancies in the neighborhood of 100 within the next few decades.

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