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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2016 Nov 29;113(48):E7681-E7690. Epub 2016 Nov 21.

The emergence of longevous populations.

Author information

1
Max-Planck Odense Center on the Biodemography of Aging, University of Southern Denmark, Odense 5230, Denmark.
2
Department of Mathematics and Computer Science, University of Southern Denmark, Odense 5230, Denmark.
3
Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock 18057, Germany.
4
Institute of Sociology and Demography, University of Rostock, Rostock 18057, Germany.
5
Department of Biology, University of Southern Denmark, Odense 5230, Denmark.
6
Department of Public Health, University of Southern Denmark, Odense 5000, Denmark.
7
Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Princeton University, Princeton, NJ 08544.
8
Institute of Primate Research, National Museums of Kenya, 00502 Nairobi, Kenya.
9
Department of Anthropology, University of North Carolina, Charlotte, NC 28223.
10
Department of Ecology, Evolution, and Organismal Biology, Iowa State University, Ames, IA 50011.
11
Department of Anthropology and Archaeology, University of Calgary, Calgary, AB, Canada T2N 1N4.
12
Department of Evolutionary Anthropology, Duke University, Durham, NC 27708.
13
The Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International and Zoo Atlanta, Atlanta, GA 30315.
14
Department of Anthropology, University of Wisconsin, Madison, WI 53706.
15
Institute of Primate Research, National Museums of Kenya, 00502 Nairobi, Kenya; jvaupel@health.sdu.dk alberts@duke.edu.
16
Department of Biology, Duke University, Durham, NC 27708.
17
Duke Population Research Institute, Duke University, Durham, NC 27708.
18
Max-Planck Odense Center on the Biodemography of Aging, University of Southern Denmark, Odense 5230, Denmark; jvaupel@health.sdu.dk alberts@duke.edu.

Abstract

The human lifespan has traversed a long evolutionary and historical path, from short-lived primate ancestors to contemporary Japan, Sweden, and other longevity frontrunners. Analyzing this trajectory is crucial for understanding biological and sociocultural processes that determine the span of life. Here we reveal a fundamental regularity. Two straight lines describe the joint rise of life expectancy and lifespan equality: one for primates and the second one over the full range of human experience from average lifespans as low as 2 y during mortality crises to more than 87 y for Japanese women today. Across the primate order and across human populations, the lives of females tend to be longer and less variable than the lives of males, suggesting deep evolutionary roots to the male disadvantage. Our findings cast fresh light on primate evolution and human history, opening directions for research on inequality, sociality, and aging.

KEYWORDS:

biodemography; equality; lifespan; pace and shape; senescence

PMID:
27872299
PMCID:
PMC5137748
DOI:
10.1073/pnas.1612191113
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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