The Chattering Classes on the Longevity Dividend

Here are a couple of recent posts on the prospects for longevity engineering from the political blogger set, so focused firmly on what it means for policy - as for everything that gets discussed in that sphere. Very dreary after the first five minutes or so, but what do you expect? The more interesting artifacts are, I think, the comments to the second post, and that's where we see what that sort of circle really thinks about longevity research and the future.

The Longevity Dividend

The original justification for retirement was that by the time people reached a certain age, they were worn out and used up and deserved a few years of dignified leisure in their decline. But that idea is already changing as lives extend, and medical developments on the horizon suggest that it might change a lot more. Could we save our troubled pension systems by developing ways to keep people healthy, and working, much longer


But even much more modest progress--extending healthy middle age from 60 to, say, 80 - would permit significant shifts in retirement ages and allow for a longevity dividend that could go a long way toward preventing the looming pension meltdown.

Work Longer, Be Happier?

It wouldn’t be politically easy, of course, to shift grant money away from diseases toward more basic research to slow aging. Nor would it would be easy to raise the retirement age. But Mr. Reynolds argues that that most people - i.e., most voters - would be willing to work longer in exchange for better health. “Seems like there’s an opportunity here for a politician who’s willing to get ahead of the curve,” he says. What do you think? Would you take that bargain? And what kind of research would best benefit from this sort of shift?

I seem to recall bemoaning the culture of entitlement that underlies so much of public discourse. Where on earth does one get the idea that life and health without hard work is possible? It should go without saying that if you're alive and in good health, then you're going to be working one way or another - there's no such thing as a free lunch, and that roof over your head doesn't pay for itself. Enjoying your work and making the best of life is up to you, and in theory you should be getting pretty good at that task after a few decades of practice.


"Dreary?" Now that hurts. And I tried so hard to make it sprightly . . . .

Posted by: Glenn Reynolds at March 14th, 2009 5:10 PM

Nothing wrong with the writing for the target audience, but my eyes glaze over as soon as people start talking about Social Security as something that has to be science-engineered around.

Posted by: Reason at March 14th, 2009 8:53 PM

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