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Old Posted Jul 1, 2008, 11:19 PM
Abner Abner is offline
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Join Date: Jan 2007
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Originally Posted by mcfinley View Post
Expanding lifespans have been largely overstated by the media. While the mean lifespan has risen dramatically over the last couple centuries, the median lifespan has edged up by a few years. Consider how many fewer children are expected to die of disease or young adults are expected to be fatally injured on the job. These common occurrences drove the mean lifespan down substantially; but if people had survived early accident and disease back in the day, an individual could still be expected to reach 70 years old with adequate nutrition.
This is a common belief but it is now known to be somewhat off. Life expectancy at age 65, for example, has gone from 12 years in 1900 to about 17 years in 2000; fewer than 13% of 65 year olds in 1900 could expect to reach 85, compared to 42% today. Now that the mortality transition has gone almost as far as it can go among the young, some of the largest reductions in mortality are occurring among people over age 80.

And the changes that have occurred in disability are only now starting to be fully understood. Today we often assume that people in the past had lower disability rates because they didn't live to advanced ages, but in fact, things that we now consider disabilities of the elderly--arthritis, cognitive disorders, cardiovascular disease, hernias, etc.--were commonplace 100 years ago by age 50, and people then were crippled by conditions like chronic diarrhea and hemorrhoids that are comparatively insignificant (in affliction rates and severity) today. I think a lot of the anxiety over aging populations comes from two things: continued retirement at or below age 65, and extremely high medical costs, rather than disability per se.

As far as whether high birthrates among low-educated, low-skilled Hispanic women are something to be very concerned about or not, in what very significant way is this population so different from immigrants 100 years ago?
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