Substantial health and economic returns from delayed aging may warrant a new focus for medical research

Dana P. Goldman, David Cutler, John W. Rowe, Pierre Carl Michaud, Jeffrey Sullivan, Desi Peneva, S. Jay Olshansky

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

191 Scopus citations

Abstract

Recent scientific advances suggest that slowing the aging process (senescence) is now a realistic goal. Yet most medical research remains focused on combating individual diseases. Using the Future Elderly Model-a microsimulation of the future health and spending of older Americans-we compared optimistic "disease specific" scenarios with a hypothetical "delayed aging" scenario in terms of the scenarios' impact on longevity, disability, and major entitlement program costs. Delayed aging could increase life expectancy by an additional 2.2 years, most of which would be spent in good health. The economic value of delayed aging is estimated to be $7.1 trillion over fifty years. In contrast, addressing heart disease and cancer separately would yield diminishing improvements in health and longevity by 2060-mainly due to competing risks. Delayed aging would greatly increase entitlement outlays, especially for Social Security. However, these changes could be offset by increasing the Medicare eligibility age and the normal retirement age for Social Security. Overall, greater investment in research to delay aging appears to be a highly efficient way to forestall disease, extend healthy life, and improve public health.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1698-1705
Number of pages8
JournalHealth Affairs
Volume32
Issue number10
DOIs
StatePublished - 2013
Externally publishedYes

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