Man does not seem to have reached an ultimate age yet. It is almost certain that the current record of 122 for the year 2100 has been broken. It is probable that someone will reach an age of 126 before that time. And there’s even a reasonable chance that within eighty years, somewhere in the world, a human will turn 130—meaning that person is now 50 or older. Which to conclude American statisticians in the magazine this month Democratic Research.
Based on ages that people have reached so far, Americans predict what a logical continuation of this trend is. On the basis of the probability of dying after the age of 110 and how many people will be 110 before the year 2088, you can predict the probability that someone will have become older than 122 before 2100. From this calculation, the probability that someone in the world will live to be 126, 128 or 130 years old is 89, 44 and 13 percent.
The number of people reaching the age of 100 or even 110 is increasing “extremely fast,” says Swedish mathematician statistician Holger Rootzén (Chalmers University of Technology), who reviewed the study. “In the United States, for example, five times more people lived to be 110 years old in 2000 than in 1980.” This makes it plausible that the current age record will also be broken. “If a hundred people live to be older than 110, there is little chance that someone will live to 120. But if a million people live to be 110, then it is certain that someone will live to be 126 or older,” Rootzén says.
No upper limit
Also, the risk of death in extremely old people (aged 110 or older) no longer increases, the Americans calculated based on the ages reached so far. “If you’re 110, your chance of surviving another year is 50 percent. If you are 114, the chance that you will be 115 is also 50 percent,” Rootzén explains.
This is striking, because this equal chance of death suggests that there is no maximum lifespan for humans. There is always a chance to survive another year, no matter how old you are. Although the chance that someone will have reached the age of 135 before 2100 is very unlikely according to the Americans.
Rootzén himself also calculated this smoothing in a study from 2017. The new study had more data at its disposal and thus built on Rootzén’s theory. “That makes the prediction more certain,” Rootzén says.
Rootzén does not know why the risk of death is leveling off. There is a theory about a selection effect: that people who get extremely old are healthier than the average person. This would exactly compensate for the aging of this select group. But Rootzen is not convinced of that. “If that’s the only reason, it’s quite a coincidence that the chance of death does not decrease or increase just a little bit.”
Although the data on human lifespans show no indication of an upper limit, it remains a prediction. “Maybe we will never get rid of covid and we won’t live past 90 or medicine develops faster,” Rootzén says. Still, predictions are valuable, he says. For example for pension funds.