Thoughts on Life Expectancy

In 100 BC, the average man in the most advanced society lived to 25. Over the next 2000 years, man’s life expectancy grew from 25 to 45 — a 20 year gain. Or approximately 0.03% per year. That is a significant achievement — man has been able to overcome nature (and human nature).

But by unleashing the unbelievable developments in technology, we have massively increased out pace of growth of life expectancy since 1900. From 1900 to 2000, man’s life expectancy grew from 45 to 75 — or 30 years over the century (or approximately 0.51% per year) — and that includes an incredibly bloody century of two world wars … the Spanish flu … genocides in Eastern Europe, Rwanda, Cambodia … and more.

Quick recap — over the last 2100 years, man’s life expectancy grew from 25 to 75 — but the rate of growth was 17 times faster during the last 100 years then during the previous 2000 years.

That said, does this mean that according to this trend that man will one day essentially live forever? Or will we soon hit a right wall through which man cannot live past (at least on average — there will always be outliers)?

I tend to think that within the next 200 years we will see that either:

1. man will live forever
2. some mutated disease will virtually wipe man out

For many, both scenarios are quite depressing. And while most people hope the options aren’t quite so binary, I’m not sure we have any more choices.


I obviously much prefer option number 1 to option number 2 — and we might, as a collective society, need to work very hard at ensuring the “good” outcome rather then the disaster outcome.

3 thoughts on “Thoughts on Life Expectancy

  1. C lawson

    I think you’re talking about the European man that didn’t live past 25 years in 100BC. Read the Bible and you will see man living hundreds of years. Man’s decline in age expectancy is due to his way of life. What he ate, how he fought, and the conditions of his environment, that brough on plagues, caused the European to meet such an early demise.
    Technolog doesn’t keep us living longer.

  2. Eric

    Mankind will be affected by diseases that “Mother” Nature comes up with to restore a natural balance in this world. A grim outlook if you know that the world is already over populated. Sience will not prevent us from dying. The upbeat of this is that natural selection will take place. Lets hope that that will result in the elimination of people who take the bible as a factual book instead of a guideline for human behauviour.

  3. Arly

    A Greek Historians statement mentioned by Diogenes Laertius (c. 250 AD) is the earliest (or at least one of the earliest) references about plausible centenarian longevity given by a scientist, the astronomer Hipparchus of Nicea (c. 185 – c. 120 BC), who, according to the doxographer, was assured that the philosopher Democritus of Abdera (c. 470/460 – c. 370/360 BC) lived 109 years. All other accounts given by the ancients about the age of Democritus appear, without giving any specific age, to agree that the philosopher lived over 100 years. This possibility is likely, given that many ancient Greek philosophers are thought to have lived over the age of 90 (e.g., Xenophanes of Colophon, c. 570/565 – c. 475/470 BC, Pyrrho of Ellis, c. 360 – c. 270 BC, Eratosthenes of Cirene, c. 285 – c. 190 BC, etc.). The case of Democritus is different from the case of, for example, Epimenides of Crete (7th, 6th centuries BC), who is said to have lived 154, 157 or 290 years, as has been said about countless elders even during the last centuries as well as in the present time. These cases are not verifiable by modern means, yet historical records show their plausability. The facts in history concerning longevity are apparent in many ancient societies including the historical facts recorded in the bible. It has been a valuable resource of historial facts that many archeologist have deemed correct.


Leave a Reply