Does Medicine Actually Make People Live Longer?


The 17th-century English philosopher Thomas Hobbes famously called life before the modern era “nasty, brutish and short.” People still echo that idea today, albeit without the same pithy elegance.

“Hunter-gatherers all died when they were, like, 30,” a friend told me recently. “When the average old age death was people in their 40’s, did they look as old as people in their 90’s or 100’s look now?” asked someone on Quora.

Many imagine that humans in the past all died young and that, thanks to medical science, people are now living longer and longer. Soon, perhaps, we’ll all hit that 150th birthday — or achieve immortality.

It’s a nice idea; it’s just entirely fictional.


An older article about life expectancy from NYT:

“Blacks are catching up,” said Samuel Preston, a demographer at the University of Pennsylvania. “The gap is now the narrowest it has been since the beginning of the 20th century, and that’s really good news.”

life expectancy


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