The Politics of Living Longer

Science is having a field day with data on aging as life expectancy rates get higher and higher. (Except this year, due to Covid, when there is expected to be a political bump in the road.)

Life expectancy is essentially a statistical construct, and as medical science and public health leap forward a sharp decline in deaths of young people has helped those numbers regarding lifespan go up.

The impact of an aging population on the world is profound. In the 1950’s, the average lifespan was around 67. Today it’s closer to 80. Science author Steven Johnson, speaking earlier this month in an interview with Reason about life expectancy doubling in the next 100 years says there are political implications to people living longer. “What we’re seeing with political events is what happens when people live longer. A lot of the people who voted for Trump would have been dead in 1950. A lot of the people who voted for Brexit would have been dead in 1950.” So the topics driving politics are changing to reflect the different demographics of voters. In the next decade, two-thirds of federal spending will be on people over the age of 65. Retired Americans are flocking to warmer climes, like Texas, California and Florida. And at a time when caretakers are in increasing demand, there are fewer available individuals in the workforce.

photo: Getty Images

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