Posted on Oct 17, 2013, 6 a.m.
Research shows that the average 25-year-old American today can expect 2.4 more years of a healthy life than 20-years ago.
The average American born today can expect to live 3.8-years longer than a person born 20-years ago. However, whether or not those extra years will be active and healthy years has, until now, been uncertain. By synthesizing data from multiple government-sponsored health surveys conducted over the last 21-years, Allison Rosen, MD, associate professor of Quantitative Health Sciences at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, Susan Stewart, researcher at the National Bureau of Economic Research, and David Cutler, professor of economics at Harvard University, were able to measure how the quality-adjusted life expectancy (QALE) of all Americans has changed over time. "QALE tells us more than how long a person can expect to live," said Dr. Rosen. "It tells us what the relative quality of those added years are in terms of physical, emotional, and mental well-being." The study results show that a 25-year-old person today can expect to live 6% or 2.4 quality years longer than their 1987 counterpart. Meanwhile, a 65-year-old person will gain 1.7 quality years, a 14% increase from a generation ago. The authors believe that the gains in quality years are mainly due to improvements in health care, with many conditions being far more treatable today than they were 25-years ago.
ST Stewart, DM Cutler, AB Rosen. US trends in quality-adjusted life expectancy from 1987 to 2008: Combining national surveys to more broadly track the health of the nation. American Journal of Public Health. 2013, September 12.