Demographic researchers say modern medicine’s progress at reducing the risk of death has been so rapid, the average life expectancy has risen faster since 1900 than in any time since modern man began to evolve.
In fact, early man faced the same odds of dying at age 30 as modern men do at 72, according to a report Tuesday in the Financial Times.
Researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research in Rostock, Germany, examined men in Sweden and Japan, two nations with the longest life expectancies today. The study concluded that men living in those countries in 1800 would have had life spans closer to the earliest humans than adult men living there today.
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To study how the odds of dying at specific ages had changed over time, researchers examined longevity data from chimpanzees and used it to estimate life spans for prehumans. They took data from modern hunter-gatherer tribes as a benchmark for early human life spans.
Researchers say the rapid increase in life expectancy will pose a challenge to industrialized economies as retirement income needs expand. The study did not tackle the issue of whether extended life expectancies are desirable or whether the average person will still have the mental faculties to enjoy additional years.
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