Re: poly: Longevity

From: Robin Hanson <>
Date: Wed May 06 1998 - 10:12:50 PDT

Rich Schroeppel writes:
>A couple of general comments, inspired by Robin's summary of the
>Wilmoth article in Science about longevity. ...
>I have two quibbles with the use of "life expectancy" as a measure
>of longevity. (a) is that it overweights infant mortality -- my
>interest is in the figure for 50 year old male couch potatoes.

You're just complaining that his graph aggregated too much. But
Wilmoth just have one page to summarize all of demography. I'm sure
demographers have plotted such graphs for 50 year old males, and
even finer detail than that. "Couch potatos" sounds unlikely though.

>The other problem with Wilmoth is that it suggests there's no
>point in taking any special steps to promote longevity.
>We see people telling congress that curing cancer would only add
>a year to life expectancy -- why bother?

I don't think he saying to to try to improve longevity. He's saying
keep on trying, but don't expect to do too much better than past
efforts have achieved.

Robin Hanson
RWJF Health Policy Scholar, Sch. of Public Health 510-643-1884
140 Warren Hall, UC Berkeley, CA 94720-7360 FAX: 510-643-8614
Received on Wed May 6 17:33:04 1998

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