For decades, the number of people living past the age of 100 has been rising, but few live beyond 110.
According to new research, the number of people living to 125 years, or even 130 years, will continue to increase slowly by the end of this century.
Lifespans have been gradually increasing
For decades, the number of people who live beyond the age of 100 has been on the rise, up to nearly half a million people worldwide.
However, there are far fewer “supercentenarians,” people who live to age 110 or even beyond. When Jeanne Calment of France died in 1997, she was 122 years old. Presently, the oldest person in the world is 118-year-old Kane Tanaka of Japan.
Throughout history, the extremes of humanity have fascinated people. A record at the Olympics or a trip to the moon are examples of this. Thus, people have an insatiable curiosity about how long they can live. By quantifying and determining the likelihood of specific individuals living to extreme ages within this century, this research seeks to make predictions about the future.
Certain issues with longevity
Government and economic policies and individuals’ health care and lifestyle decisions have ramifications related to longevity, making what’s probable, or even possible, relevant at all levels of society.
An article in the journal Demographic Research examines the extremes of human life through statistical modeling. Experts have debated the possible limits to the maximum reported age at death, taking into account ongoing research into aging, the prospects of future medical and scientific discoveries, and how few people are verified to have reached 110 and over.
Some scientists maintain no natural limit to human longevity due to disease and primary cell decay, but others argue that record-breaking supercentenarians prove there is no limit.
In their study, Adam Pearce and Professor Adrian Raftery, a professor of statistics and sociology, approached the problem differently. By the year 2100, the most extended human lifespan could be anywhere in the world. According to Bayesian statistics, a commonly used tool in modern statistics, the researchers estimate that the world record of 122 years is almost certainly going to be broken, with a strong likelihood of at least one person living anywhere between 125 and 132 years.
Researchers Ray Aftery and Adam Pearce used the Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research’s International Database on Longevity’s latest version to calculate the probability of living past 110 years of age and to what age. The database includes supercentenarians from ten European countries and Canada, Japan, and the United States.
The team estimated the probability for the maximum reported age at death in all thirteen countries from 2020 through 2100 by applying a Bayesian approach.
Among their findings:
- According to researchers, there is a near 100% chance that Calment’s record of 122 years, 164 days will be broken:
- There is a strong probability that you will live well into your 124th year (99% probability) and even into your 127th year (68% probability);
- There is a 13% chance of someone living to 130, so it is possible to live even longer;
- In this century, it is doubtful that anyone will live to 135 years old.
As things stand, supercentenarians are the exception, and the likelihood of breaking the current record increases only if the number of supercentenarians increases significantly. Global population growth makes that possible, researchers say.
Those who achieve extreme longevity are still rare enough to belong to a small group, Raftery says. After a certain age, mortality rates flatten despite population growth and advances in health care. Therefore, if a person lives to 110, they are half as likely to live to 114, which equals about one year more.
After a person reaches 110, they typically die at the same rate regardless of their age. At this point, there are no classic causes of death, such as disease or accident. The factors that often cause them to die are quite different from those that affect younger people. These individuals are very robust.