Study suggests we haven’t reached the maximum human lifespan

Scientists have been studying the maximum length of human life for centuries (Andrea Piacquadio / Pexels)
Scientists have been studying the maximum length of human life for centuries (Andrea Piacquadio / Pexels)

The question “How long can humans actually live?” is an age-old one scientists have been looking into for centuries.

Ancient Hebrews believed that the length of a human’s life was 80 years, while the ancient Romans saw 100 or 110 as the limit.

To date, on record, the longest human being to live was a French woman named Jeanne Calment, who was born in 1875 and lived to be 122 years old.

A recent study by University of Georgia’s Terry College of Business looked into the widespread belief that the length of a human life may have reached a biological limit.

David McCarthy, an assistant professor of Insurance and Real Estate at the university, wanted to challenge this belief. To do so, his team examined human mortality through centuries across 19 countries, including the US, the UK, Australia, Canada, and France. They looked at how the increase in mortality rates changed across age groups.

The study found that there were certain birth year groups that tended to live longer, with the cohort between 1900 and 1950 being a prominent example. While the team couldn’t find why that is, they speculated that improvements in public health and medical technology might be playing a role.

McCarthy and his colleagues concluded that “as newer generations reach these advanced ages, we can expect that longevity records will indeed be surpassed”. They added: “If there is a maximum limit to the human lifespan, we are not yet approaching it.”

According to the Office for National Statistics (ONS), baby boys born in the UK in 2020 can expect to live on average to age 87.3, while baby girls will reach 90.2 years.

In other words, birth-year-based life expectancy in the UK is expected to increase by 2.8 years for boys and 2.4 years for girls in 2045.