A little less rigor in that mortis

This particular New York Times piece starts with a possibly misleading statistic:

Since 1900, the life expectancy of Americans has jumped to just shy of 80 from 47 years.

I suspect that much of that gain has been at the younger end of the spectrum: while infant mortality has more or less leveled off lately, it was much higher a hundred years ago.

Still, we (which, for the moment, includes me) are living longer these days, and Rand Simberg raises a valid point:

Of course, it’s one thing to say you only want to live to be eighty when it’s a theoretical issue, decades from now. A lot of those people change their minds when the time actually approaches.

Not so many decades, for some of us. And since my father died at 79, I’d kind of like to improve on that number. My mother never made it to fifty.

I don’t think I’ll have a whole lot to say about it, though, since old parts wear out, and new parts cost — I almost said “an arm and a leg,” but that wouldn’t do, would it?


  1. fillyjonk »

    2 September 2012 · 12:47 pm

    As someone who teaches demography (and uses cemetery data in a lab so students can construct survivorship tables), you are quite right about the “gains at the lower end of the scale.”

    I dunno. I’d be happy to make it to 92 as my maternal grandmother did, or even 101, like a great-uncle. But only if the world remains in a decent state. If we wind up with something like the world of Soylent Green, well, I’ll be first in line to become breakfast cereal.

  2. Jeffro »

    2 September 2012 · 3:34 pm

    In my family, the men die off early and the women live into their eighties. However, the ones that made it that far surely didn’t enjoy it, since they barely had a clue who they were, much less any other memories.

    I’d rather go out with relatively intact faculties.

  3. Jess »

    2 September 2012 · 4:32 pm

    I become suspicious when anybody writes about increases in age when people die. The politicians are praying for a way to cut the costs of Social Security and Medicare. Making a point that people live longer, so they should retire later is something I see coming.

  4. fillyjonk »

    2 September 2012 · 8:31 pm

    I dunno. I wouldn’t particularly mind working a bit later (my current plan, considering my knees hold out, is to teach until 70 or so). And my 101 year old great uncle was still arguing with the nurses on the day he died, so faculties are not something I’m too worried about.

    However, I do admit I worry a bit about either being told what I may eat as my age increases, or what kind of health care I may have (“You don’t have any dependents, no one seems like they’d particularly miss you. Just why should we treat this heart condition?”), or something similar.

  5. CGHill »

    2 September 2012 · 9:18 pm

    For folks my age, the Normal Retirement Age has been bumped up from 65 to 66; for those born in 1960 or later, 67. I would not be surprised to see it boosted further, somewhere down the line.

  6. Tatyana »

    3 September 2012 · 9:11 am

    I would agree to live into my 80s only if I could be assured that I’d find some employment. I hate not working; I become a walking dead, restless and stupid. The problem is not living longer, even with accompanying physical deterioration, it’s the impossibility to be taken seriously, to be employed and respected for your work.

  7. Lynn »

    3 September 2012 · 4:16 pm

    I don’t care at what age I die as long as it’s always at least a couple of decades in the future.

  8. CGHill »

    3 September 2012 · 5:16 pm

    Now that’s the spirit.

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