X-Message-Number: 13982
Date: Tue, 20 Jun 2000 13:39:00 -0400
From: "J. Hughes" <>
Subject: Life expectancy rising

The absurdity of simple extrapolative models....

Life Expectancy Said Rising Faster 
 Updated 2:00 PM ET June 14, 2000 

By ALEX DOMINGUEZ, Associated Press Writer 

Life expectancy in major industrialized nations is increasing faster than
their governments are predicting, which could strain pension plans and
other programs in those countries, a U.S. researcher says. 

If residents live as long as the researchers predict, it will push the
"dependency ratio" - the ratio of those over 65 to working people - from 6
percent higher in Britain to 40 percent higher in Japan by 2050. 

The dependency ratio in the United States is now .22 residents over age 65
to every resident age 20 to 64, and should increase to nearly .40 by 2050,
said researcher Shripad Tuljapurkar. 

Life expectancy estimates are important for governments trying to determine
how much money to set aside for pensions, health programs and other social
spending for the aged. 

Tuljapurkar and his colleagues graphed death rates over the past half
century in the United States, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and
Britain, and developed a mathematical model to extend the curve into the

The study was prepared by the Los Altos, Calif.-based Mountain View
Research firm Tuljapurkar heads. It was published in Thursday's issue of
the journal Nature. 

Gregory Spencer, chief of the population projections branch for the U.S.
Census Bureau, said the Mountain View researchers compared their estimates
to U.S. projections that have since been updated. 

The previous U.S. Census estimate for life expectancy for Americans born in
2050 was 80.45 years. The current U.S. estimate for 2050 is 83.9 years,
compared with 82.91 years projected by Mountain View. 

The greatest discrepancy was in Japan, where the researchers predicted life
expectancy would be 90.91 years for those born in 2050, compared with the
official government estimate of 82.85 years. 

The researchers estimated Canadians born in 2050 would live 85.26 years,
compared with the 81.67 years estimated by the government. In Britain, the
difference was 83.79 years to 82.5; in France it was 87.01 to 83.5; in
Germany, 83.12 to 81.5; and in Italy, 86.26 to 82.5. 

Tuljapurkar acknowledged some countries may have updated their life
expectancy estimates since he collected the data used in the study. 

Carl Haub, a demographer with the Washington-based Population Reference
Bureau, said many countries are coming to the realization that life
expectancy estimates will have to be revised upward. 

"There has been a hesitancy to raise life expectancy values to a more than
traditional level, which usually has been about 85," Haub said. "Now,
there's a recognition that you may have to." 

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