As Life Expectancy Increases Will the Elderly Become a Greater ‘Burden on Society’?

Of all the pieces Dalrymple writes, none get more comments than the medical ones. I’m sure Dalrymple would say that fact is indicative of the modern obsession with health and the drive for immortality. In his latest piece at Pajamas Media, he writes about an increasingly important medical issue:

At dinner the other night, a cardiologist spoke of the economic burden on modern society of the elderly. This, he said, could only increase as life expectancy improved.

I was not sure that he was right, and not merely because I am now fast approaching old age and do not like to consider myself (yet) a burden on or to society. A very large percentage of a person’s lifetime medical costs arise in the last six years of his life; and, after all, a person only dies once. Besides, and more importantly, it is clear that active old age is much more common than it once was. Eighty really is the new seventy, seventy the new sixty, and so forth. It is far from clear that the number of years of disabled or dependent life are increasing just because life expectancy is increasing…

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