Competing Visions For the Future of Longevity
A MALTHUSIAN CASE
Increased longevity, unevenly distributed, will lead to societal conflict. It goes like this: As a wealthy few live longer, more productive lives, Western centenarians suck more resources away from poorer, sicker nations. Younger generations revolt against their vibrant elders who stay in work longer, depriving the youth of opportunities, ushering in an era of violent upheaval.
A MORE LIKELY SCENARIO
Investment in antiaging research— including regenerative therapies, gene editing and advanced bionics— pays off as the world wakes up to the idea that aging is not something we must simply accept, but a condition that can be treated like any other. If these advances are shared equitably, increased healthspan will unleash an economic boom powered by the “longevity dividend,” as people work and contribute to the global economy for more years and spend less time in the hospital. “Late-life universities” will spring up to retrain healthy 60- and 70-year-olds who want to change careers. A recent study in Nature estimates that one extra year of healthy life for everyone on Earth would contribute $37 trillion to the global economy.