October 2, 2009
More Than Half Of Babies Could Live To Age 100
More than half of babies born in wealthy countries this century are likely to live to be at least 100 years old, according to new research.
Writing in the Lancet medical journal, Kaare Christensen, of the Danish Ageing Research Centre at the University of Southern Denmark, noted that life expectancy in most developed nations has increased by about 30 years during the 20th century.
"Very long lives are not the distant privilege of remote future generations -- very long lives are the probable destiny of most people alive now in developed countries," said Christensen.
"If the pace of increase in life expectancy in developed countries over the past two centuries continues through the 21st century, most babies born since 2000 in France, Germany, Italy, the UK, the USA, Canada, Japan and other countries with long life expectancies will celebrate their 100th birthdays."
The study notes that just 15-16 percent of 80-year-old women, and just 12 percent of 80-year-old men lived to age 90 in wealthy nations.
By 2002, this rate had increased to 37 percent and 25 percent respectively.
What's more, Christensen noted that the survival rate from 80 to 90 in Japan was more than 50 percent among women.
Although this is a positive indicator of public health, experts admit that it will place added stress on the major governments of the world as they face having to raise the age of retirement.
"If people in their 60s and early 70s worked much more than they do nowadays, then most people could work fewer hours per week," researchers noted.
"Preliminary evidence suggests that shortened working weeks over extended working lives might further contribute to increases in life expectancy and health."
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