Text size:

  • Small
  • Normal
  • Large

Age 72 really is the new 30

We're living far longer than our ancestors did. This is spectacularly good news, but it brings social challenges that must be managed.

The serious-minded Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research in Germany has provided the media with a bombshell headline: "72 is the new 30".

Its researchers have determined that the average human lifespan has increased more in the past 100 years than in the previous 200,000 years. In fact, the average lifespan barely rose at all from hunter-gatherer times - when a man had the same odds of dying at the age of 30 as a 72-year-old man does today - until 1900.

The study, published in the journal Proceedings Of The National Academy Of Sciences, drew on data about men born in the 20th century in Sweden and Japan, and estimates about ancient humans based on observations of modern hunter-gatherers in remote places.

It's an acknowledgement of extraordinary advances in medicine, and what one of the scientists calls the "plasticity" of the human lifespan. Lead researcher Oskar Burger said that, if these gains in longevity continued, it was impossible to speculate what age a human being could attain.

However, the advances are creating a burden for society. The idea of retiring at 65 will have to be reassessed, as will the provision of health care funds. And then there's the big question: who really wants to live forever?

Back to the top

More articles


Editor's Picks

 Lionel Richie performed many of his hits from the 1970s and 1980s at the Dubai Media City Amphitheatre. Jaime Puebla / The National

Lionel Richie dishes out the hits to Dubai crowd

At his Dubai concert on Thursday, Richie greeted the audience with “Yalla habibi” – a statement of intent as his energy rarely let up.

Tyrese reunited with Fazza

Tyrese today posted on his social media accounts (Twitter, Instagram and Facebook) his pleasure at being reunited with the Crown Prince of Dubai Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum.

 Falconry is an activity where they demonstrate how falcons catch prey while flying at a speed of almost 360 kilometres per hour. Mona Al-Marzooqi / The National

In pictures: Adventure in the desert at Abu Dhabi's Qasr Al Sarab

Mohammad Ashfaq, an adventure guide at the Qasr Al Sarab resort, Abu Dhabi, showcases a day in his working life.

 Roberto Martinez is daring Everton to dream. Paul Ellis / AFP

Martinez v Moyes is a clash of purist v puritan

Roberto Martinez’s positivity made him the perfect choice in 2013 to manage Everton and to build on the solid foundations David Moyes had left.

Video: Local reactions to a national fishing ban

A federal fishing ban has been imposed by the UAE federal government, but local authorities are taking diiferent approaches to implementing the ban. Two fishermen tell two very different sides of the story. Produced by Paul O'Driscoll

 An Egyptian Orthodox Christian priest give communion during the Palm Sunday service inCairo, Egypt. Mohamed El-Shahed / AFP

Region in focus - April 18, 2014

The best images of the last seven days from around the Gulf and across the Middle East.

Events

To add your event to The National listings, click here

Get the most from The National