All’s Well That Ages Well: The Economic Value of Targeting Aging

Human lifespans are increasing with advances in medicine, but the economic value of these gains is poorly understood. Based on U.S. data, we show a compression of morbidity that improves health is more valuable than further increases in life expectancy. However, economic gains to better health diminish unless longevity also improves. Treatments that target aging are hence particularly valuable, as they produce both healthier and longer lives. We calculate a slowdown in aging that increases life expectancy by one year is worth $38 trillion, and for ten years $367 trillion. Evaluating the impact of metformin shows targeting aging offers potentially larger economic gains than eradicating individual diseases. Complementarities between health, longevity and age lead to a virtuous circle that means improvements in aging increase the value of further gains. Aligned with trends in demographics and disease, this implies the gains from age targeting treatments will increase further in the decades ahead.