It is unlikely that lengthening humans’ lifespan will continue its upward trend in this century. Whereas developing countries such as China and Vietnam are able to make two-digit economic growth, it is difficult for developed countries to achieve growth of 2 to 4 percent. Even though someone makes the mortality rate of humans aged 50 years or younger null by magic, the average lifespan will rise by just 3.5 years. Professors Stuart Jay Olshansky and Bruce A. Carnes predicted in their book “The Quest for immortality”: “If the first revolution of life expectancy is completed, humans’ average life span will exceed 85 years.” They added the following premises to realize such dreams: a big fall in infant mortality in some countries or groups; no smoking and drinking; perfect protective inoculation; weight control by changing eating habits; regular physical exercise; wearing seat belts; safe sexual life; and guaranteeing both basic care and health insurance.
According to estimates released by the government, the average lifespan in Korea is 79.1 years. It exceeds the average in OECD countries, 78.9 years, and the gap with Japan(82.4 years) has already narrowed to 3.5 years. Lengthening average life expectancy may be a necessary and sufficient condition to be an advanced country, but it does not guarantee private happiness. What is more important is “life expectancy of health.” What is the greatest virtue in the era of average life expectancy exceeding 80 years and more than 30 years after retirement? Pay more attention to your health, even though there is an intense and long lasting heat wave.
The writer is a special health reporter for the JoongAng Ilbo.
By Park Tae-kyun [firstname.lastname@example.org]