The past 150 years have witnessed one of the greatest of human achievements. In 1870 average global life expectancy was about 30 years; today it is 73 and rising (Deaton 2015). Further, the proportion of life lived free of frailty or illness has remained broadly unchanged, so people spend most of these extra years in good health.
The implications of this development for individuals are profound. For instance, in 1960 the average Chinese newborn had only a 27 percent chance of making it to age 65; today that probability is 83 percent and rising. Around the world, on average, people can now expect to live longer, healthier lives than in previous generations.
Ellison, M., D. Sinclair, and A. Scott. 2020. “All’s Well That Ages Well.” Oxford University/Harvard Medical School/London Business School, unpublished.
Sanderson, W. C, and S. Scherbov. 2019. Prospective Longevity: A New Vision of Population Aging. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.