Nature Aging: “The economic value of targeting aging”

Delighted that my paper, written with Martin Ellison and David Sinclair, has now been published in Nature Aging.

It was a fun paper to write and work on. Ultimately it does two things. Firstly, it places an economic value on the gains to various combinations of improving health, increasing life expectancy and delaying aging. Secondly it tries to capture the dynamics of how the relationship between these gains will evolve in the future.

There are numerous results in the paper that are worth mulling over so do take a look. We also wrote the paper to try and makes its punchlines accessible to a wider audience.

For me, the key result is around the dynamics and those imply:

  •  For first time in human history, the majority of children born in high income countries can expect to live into their mid-80s if not beyond. That means a new health imperative – to age well. That is about all of life not end of life
  • Targeting aging and reducing the incidence of age related diseases is therefore the next natural epidemiological transition and focus of health systems
  • Healthy aging leads to a number of positive spillovers or complementarities
                        – Better health in later life increases the value of living longer, living for longer increases the value of better health in later life.
                        – Delaying aging slows down incidence of numerous diseases and so has large effects – due to aggregating across many diseases but also through health synergies in delaying incidence of several diseases
  • Gains to delaying aging increase with average age of society and number of older people
  • These spillovers lead to an unusual feature. The more success society achieves in delaying aging and reducing incidence of age related diseases the more it values further improvements in delaying aging
  • This virtuous circle points to every more resources being directed towards delaying aging. Progress will therefore be determined by the limits to our scientific understanding and to how malleable aging is.
  • Gains to targeting aging are enormous. Delaying aging so that life expectancy increases by one year is worth $38trn to the US

Hope you find it an interesting – you can view the paper here.

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