Babies born in rich nations today have the best shot at becoming centenarians. That's if current life expectancy trends continue, according to the study published in The Lancet. Not only will these babies live longer, but they'll be healthier well into old age.
The researchers based their projections on a case study of Germany that showed that by 2050, its population will be substantially older and smaller than now -- a situation it said was now typical of rich nations [Reuters].
In the United States, half of the babies born in 2007 are expected to live to a ripe 104 years old. The authors credited improvements in health care, medicine, and lifestyle, as well as a drop in infant mortality rates, for increased life spans.
Data from more than 30 developed countries shows that since 1950 the probability of surviving past 80 years of age has doubled for both sexes [BBC News].
However, the study cautions that
despite improved life expectancies, an increase in cancer, cardiovascular disease and other chronic illnesses has risen with aging populations [ABC News]. As citizens get older and require more medical care, the increased life expectancies may place a burden on society. Already, many countries are pushing to extent the retirement age to grapple with the costs.
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Image: flickr / Will Foster