Will this bold projection occur? Only time will tell. But it is clear that the actuarial projections of these three countries suggest unanimity of conviction that a relative acceleration of mortality improvement above age 85 is in prospect. That this conviction stands in such contrast to the theory suggested by Hayflick presents a particular challenge to the Government actuaries of these three countries.
Hayflick suggests that human longevity is effectively limited by our physiology and genetic control over the mechanisms that allow us to maintain and repair the ever- present deterioration (entropy) of our cellular/molecular systems. This deterioration, and our diminishing capacity to combat it after the age of reproduction, result in aging and a diminishing ability to resist disease and ultimately death.
Robine et al. demonstrate that historical data are generally consistent with a compression of the age distribution of deaths above the modal age, even if not a general compression of the distribution. However, the tendency to compress the age distribution of deaths at the highest ages suggests a concurrence with the Hayflick contention that biological limitations will limit the effective omega more than the age to which 50 percent or 10 percent of births survive. That is, the Hayflick theory and the Robine et al. observations suggest an historical and likely continued future “squaring” of the survival curve.
In fairly stark contrast to these observations and this theory stand the projections of the Government actuary offices of the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom. In each case, the assumed future rates of reduction in mortality at ages 85 and over are substantially higher relative to the rates of reduction at ages 65-84 than observed in the past. This assumption has the effect of ceasing the compression of the age- distribution of deaths, as has already been observed in the United States and in Japan. Moreover, these assumptions go further and project a decompression of the age