In case you missed it, check out this interesting piece by Linda Marza on Aeon about rising longevity inequality:

The life expectancy gap between the affluent and the poor and working class in the US, for instance, now clocks in at 12.2 years. College-educated white men can expect to live to age 80, while counterparts without a high-school diploma die by age 67. White women with a college degree have a life expectancy of nearly 84, compared with uneducated women, who live to 73.

And these disparities are widening. The lives of white, female high-school dropouts are now five years shorter than those of previous generations of women without a high-school degree, while white men without a high-school diploma live three years fewer than their counterparts did 18 years ago, according to a 2012 study from Health Affairs.

What will happen when new scientific discoveries extend potential human lifespan and intensify these inequities on a more massive scale? It looks like the ultimate war between the haves and have-nots won’t be fought over the issue of money, per se, but over living to age 60 versus living to 120 or more. Will anyone just accept that the haves get two lives while the have-nots barely get one?

We should discuss the issue now, because we are close to delivering a true fountain of youth that could potentially extend our productive lifespan into our hundreds – it’s no longer the stuff of science fiction. ‘In just the last five years, there have been so many breakthroughs,’ says the Harvard geneticist David Sinclair. ‘There are now a number of compounds being tested in the lab that greatly slow down the ageing process and delay the onset of diabetes, cancer and heart disease.’

It’s a thought provoking question, of course: whether the rich get to live nit just better but significantly longer lives:

In stark contrast, the privileged in the US already have distinct advantages that give them a toehold into a better, longer life. These range from simply growing up in less toxic environments with two financially stable parents to the ability to secure good jobs that provide decent salaries and adequate health insurance. They live in more prosperous communities with less crime and decent public schools, ample doctors and hospitals, better food and nutrition, and superior social services that cushion any fall.

Perhaps “lifespan equality” will be an election topic 20 years from now…

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Posted by Carlos Alvarenga

Carlos Alvarenga is the Executive Director of World 50 ThinkLabs and an Adjunct Professor at the University of Maryland's Smith School of Business.

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