Arnold Kling  

The Economics of Immortality

Tax Cuts for the Rich... Economists' Assumptions...

Aubrey de Grey reviews a Brookings volume on the economics of increased longevity. Aubrey has a more optimistic vision than the authors.

rejuvenation research...will anticipate and remedy the life-threatening degenerative changes appearing at newly achieved ages with ever-increasing efficacy and lead time. This will bring about the greatest economic change of all in society: the elimination of retirement benefits. Retirement benefits are for frail people, and there won't be any frail people.

UPDATE: See this interview with Aubrey de Grey, as well as my essay that mentions him.
For Discussion. If de Grey is correct and that science will start to solve the problem of rejuvenation, will the AARP be threatened?

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CATEGORIES: Social Security

COMMENTS (6 to date)
Jim Glass writes:

For a moment I thought it said "The Economics of Immorality" which seemed both rather more realistic and more fun.

Maybe a future topic?

Brad Hutchings writes:

Doesn't AARP start recruiting at age 50? If they have one key issue, it's health care with a decidedly pro-government approach. So, if they can hold the line at 50 being the age to join, longevity increases, and government health care programs expand for AARP membership, doesn't that lead to de-facto national health care?

Lawrance George Lux writes:

The AARP has little to fear from de Grey's assertions. Most do not understand DNA and Gene construction, even among scientists in the field. Rejuvenation is a process of Zerox coping of a Gene model. Rejuvenation requires continual exact copying, which will never happen. No amount of Drug theropy or other treatments will ever lead to exact, continual replication.

The AARP in economic terms also would not face any restriction if it could be done, except for the hazards of size--bureaucracy. lgl

Steve McMullen writes:

It seems that the AARP will have a strong constituency as long as people are retiring, a practice which should continue despite advances in medicine. At very worst the average age of a retired person could increase, yet the size of their membership should still increase. Political organizations of this type seem to be able to evolve fairly effectively in order to preserve power.

Kneave Riggall writes:

"Retirement benefits are for frail people" -- Pfaghh! That is a normative statement; let's, instead, be positive (pun intended)! Retirement benefits (that is, benefits supplied by a government Ponzi scheme) are for the powerful! That is, the politically powerful. AARP's success is as a lobbyist, representing the voting "old" in their efforts to maximize their share of other people's money. If government takes away (read: defaults on) that "free lunch", then AARP will shrink to the size of the Federalist Party.

Dez Akin writes:

What we are neglecting here is what other technologies that arrive with 'immortality' that seriously distort the economic picture. Likely when death is due to choice or accident rather than the inevitable grip of age, it will probably be at least partly due to the ability to 'upload' brains into software... And the economics of inexpensive artificial intelligence grossly distort the static economic models we know and love, where the labor supply is either static, or grows at a rather modest rate... rather than being a demand driven feedback loop that we will see when human level AI becomes inexpensive.

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