July 30th, 2013
There’s no doubt that we’re living longer than previous generations. Now there’s encouraging news that those added years may be healthy ones as well. According to the latest tallies from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in 2010 the average life expectancy rose from 78.6 years in 2009 to 78.7 in 2010. But the data has not been as definitive about whether that means people are stronger and healthier and therefore adding years to their lives, or whether medical innovations are extending lives, but leaving people sicker for longer.
Researchers from Harvard University report that there is some reason to be optimistic about our longevity. “Effectively, the period of time in which we’re in poor health is being compressed until just before the end of life. So where we used to see people who are very, very sick for the final six or seven years of their life, that’s now far less common. People are living to older ages and we are adding healthy years, not debilitated ones,” said David Cutler, the Otto Eckstein Professor of Applied Economics at Harvard University and author of the latest study, in a statement.