The Economic Promise of Delayed Aging

Cold Spring Harb Perspect Med. 2015 Dec 18;6(2):a025072. doi: 10.1101/cshperspect.a025072.


Biomedicine has made enormous progress in the last half century in treating common diseases. However, we are becoming victims of our own success. Causes of death strongly associated with biological aging, such as heart disease, cancer, Alzheimer's disease, and stroke-cluster within individuals as they grow older. These conditions increase frailty and limit the benefits of continued, disease-specific improvements. Here, we show that a "delayed-aging" scenario, modeled on the biological benefits observed in the most promising animal models, could solve this problem of competing risks. The economic value of delayed aging is estimated to be $7.1 trillion over 50 years. Total government costs, including Social Security, rise substantially with delayed aging--mainly caused by longevity increases--but we show that these can be offset by modest policy changes. Expanded biomedical research to delay aging appears to be a highly efficient way to forestall disease and extend healthy life.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aging / physiology*
  • Cost of Illness
  • Economics, Medical / trends*
  • Forecasting
  • Health Expenditures / trends
  • Humans
  • Insurance, Health / economics
  • Life Expectancy / trends
  • Longevity / physiology*
  • Medicare / economics
  • United States
  • Value of Life / economics