Developments in life expectancy and the growing emphasis on biological and ‘healthy’ aging raise a number of important questions for health scientists and economists alike. Is it preferable to make lives healthier by compressing morbidity, or longer by extending life? What are the gains from targeting aging itself compared to efforts to eradicate specific diseases? Here we analyze existing data to evaluate the economic value of increases in life expectancy, improvements in health and treatments that target aging. We show that a compression of morbidity that improves health is more valuable than further increases in life expectancy, and that targeting aging offers potentially larger economic gains than eradicating individual diseases. We show that a slowdown in aging that increases life expectancy by 1 year is worth US$38 trillion, and by 10 years, US$367 trillion. Ultimately, the more progress that is made in improving how we age, the greater the value of further improvements.
Author(s): Andrew J. Scott, Martin Ellison, David A. Sinclair
Human lifespans are increasing with advances in medicine, but the economic value of these gains are poorly understood. Based on U.S. data, we show a compression of morbidity that improves health is more valuable than further increases in life expectancy. However, economic gains to better health diminish unless longevity also improves. Treatments that target aging are hence particularly valuable, as they produce both healthier and longer lives. We calculate a slowdown in aging that increases life expectancy by one year is worth $38 trillion, and for ten years $367 trillion. Evaluating the impact of metformin shows targeting aging offers potentially larger economic gains than eradicating individual diseases. Complementarities between health, longevity and age lead to a virtuous circle that means improvements in aging increase the value of further gains. Aligned with trends in demographics and disease, this implies the gains from age targeting treatments will increase further in the decades ahead.
Author(s): Martin Ellison, Andrew J. Scott, David A. Sinclair