longevity in conflict with capitalism

Glenn Reynolds argues that people are wrong to believe that

dramatic lengthening of lifespans would yield stagnation and resentment. Older people would entrench themselves in their positions, while juniors would fester with no real hope of getting ahead. Progress would dry up as creative minds wasted their best years in uncreative apprenticeships, under the sour scrutiny of their elders. The result: a dull, uncreative gerontocracy.

He notes:

at the same time that lives have been lengthening, the past hundred years have also been the most creative and dynamic period in human history. And it certainly doesn’t appear that our institutions are controlled by a rigid gerontocracy. (In fact, one finds rigid gerontocracies mostly in communist countries — the former Soviet Union, the current People’s Republic of China — and not in capitalist democracies. So if fear of gerontocracy is behind opposition to longer lives, it would be better expressed in terms of opposition to communism than opposition to aging research.)

I think Glenn is reversing cause and effect. Perhaps older populations are more conservative, more likely to cling to the status quo, and more likely to embrace economic policies that cause stagnation and shift the culture towards infertlity. This international lifespan comparison certainly makes it look like life expectancy correlates pretty directly with a preference for slow motion economies and negative fertility. Here are selected extracts from the lifespans. (Perhaps someone will do the actual statistics showing correlation between increased life expectancy and both lower fertility and decreasing freedom.)

Country Life Expectancy
South Korea 75.4
Chile 76.3
US 77
UK 78.2
Germany 78.4
France 79.3
Japan 80.9
Australia 80.1

PS Anyone know how to get rid of the big space above the table?


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