How long will we live is a question of fundamental scientific importance, social significance, and individual curiosity. Researchers at CPop have analyzed the average span of life and variation among individuals in lifespans for many populations—in the distant path using skeletal data and the more recent past using vital statistics. Two key findings are (1) that life expectancy started to steadily increase in the populations doing best starting about 1840, rising by a bit more than 2 years per decade and (2) that as life expectancy increased, lifespan inequality decreased so that today most people in longevous populations die in their 80s and early 90s.
Research has also focused on the future of life expectancy and lifespan inequality. Forecasting methods have been developed that are more accurate than previous methods. The key uncertainty about how long people will live in the future concerns how much progress will be made in improving health and survival after age 85. Many experts think that little or no progress will be made and that the record lifespan in a year will not increase beyond 115 or so. Research at CPop suggests instead that life expectancy and the maximum length of life are likely to continue to rise at about the same pace in the future as over the past century or two.
"Who wants to have 40 years of forced leisure?"
- an interview with James W. Vaupel