Americans may soon be able to live to 120… but most say they would rather be dead before then to preserve natural resources
- Survey finds that people think living to 120 would strain natural resources
- Ideal age Americans want to live to is 90 years old
By ANNA EDWARDS
PUBLISHED: 04:01 EST, 7 August 2013 | UPDATED: 06:38 EST, 7 August 2013
The wish for a long and healthy life could be a reality for Americans within decades as scientists predict that people could live to 120.
But in a study, many said they don’t want to grow quite that old, as it would strain natural resources. They also described the medical treatments that would make longer life possible as ‘unnatural’.
Those questioned about living longer said that only the wealthy would be able to access medical treatment necessary for living to such a ripe old age, and many said they would ideally like to live to 90.
The answers came as a U.S. Census Bureau revealed that by 2050 one-in-five Americans will be 65 or older, and at least 400,000 will be 100 or older.
Some believe new medical discoveries could slow down the aging process and allow humans to remain healthy and productive to the age of 120 or more.
The overall average life expectancy in the U.S. at present is 78.7 years, although women tend to live longer (81.0 years) than men (76.2 years).
According to a new survey by the Pew Research Center, that questioned 2,012 adults, a majority of U.S. adults (56 per cent) said they would not undergo medical treatments to slow the aging process and live to be 120 or more.
However, around two-thirds (68 per cent) thought that most other people would take the opportunity to have treatment that would hold back the aging process.
Around half of those questioned (51 per cent) say the treatments that would halt old age would negatively affect society – but 41 per cent say they would bring good consequences for humanity.
However, even if those treatments were available, more than two-thirds think that only wealthy people would have access to the medicine.
About two-thirds agreed ‘longer life expectancies would strain our natural resources’ and that ‘medical scientists would offer the treatment before they fully understood how it affects people’s health.’
According to the Pew Research Centre, about six-in-ten (58 per cent) of those asked said the ‘treatments would be fundamentally unnatural.’
Around 53 per cent believe that living longer would not benefit the economy – dampening hopes that an older workforce could help boost the financial condition of America.
America’s future economy could be seriously damaged if it does not address a population increasingly dominated by ageing whites and youthful Hispanics, experts warned in April.
Analysis of U.S. Census Bureau data shows there is still a worryingly gulf in wealth and educational achievement between the two groups.
With a growing, and mainly younger, demographic of Latin American ancestry and more workers of European extraction entering retirement, observers say this could be disastrous for its much-cherished American dream.
Daniel Lichter, the president of the Population Association of America, said any failure to change racial and ethnic inequality could lead to a new ‘cultural and economic fragmentation’.
According to the Bureau data analysed for New Scientist magazine, Hispanics earn less on average than whites and also enjoy substantially smaller sums when it comes to accumulated household wealth.
If the ethnic group’s younger generation are to help take the country forward, education will be of paramount importance.
But the figures show there has been no narrowing of the gap between Hispanics and whites in their 20s with college degrees since the mid-1990s.
It is no just America that faces a boom in the number of people living beyond 100.
Britain is ‘worryingly underprepared’ for a dramatically ageing population, with 8million people expected to live to more than 100.
The National Health Service, care system and public services face major challenges to deal with sharp rises in the number of older people, a Lords committee warned earlier this year.
In February an inquiry into government plans to cope with more over-65s has been warned by a string of experts about the scale of the challenge, and shortcomings in the UK’s ability to react.
By 2030 there will be 50 per cent more people over-65s, and the number of 85-year-olds will have doubled.
Half of babies born after 2007 will live beyond 103, Professor Sarah Harper from the University of Oxford said.
In 1961 in the UK there were 600 people aged 100 or over. There are now estimated to be 14,500 centenarians, the committee was told.
By 2060 the number could hit 456,000, according to the Office for National Statistics.