Between 1900 and 2000, average life expectancy increased by nearly 30 yearsin the United States and most other developed countries of the world, and the developing world is catching up quickly. For the first time in history, most people now being born can expect to live seven, eight, nine, or more decades. This achievement changes not only the trajectory of individual lives but also the shape of societies: Adults 60 and older are now the fastest-growing segment of our population.
This achievement gives rise to new important questions: What do we want to do with an extra 30 years? How should we, as individuals and as a society, shape the trajectory of our longer lives? Can we design a trajectory that improves the well-being and opportunities of people at all ages? Should we be designing new social policies that will foster these opportunities? How do we prepare young people for longer lives—and can these questions be answered in ways that would be beneficial for all generations?
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