Life Span Extension in Humans is Self-Reinforcing: A General Theory of Longevity

  • James R. Carey
  • Debra S. Judge
Part of the International Studies in Population book series (ISIP, volume 4)

We propose that longevity is not merely the result of an absence of mortality but a self-reinforcing and positively selected life history trait in social species. We develop the argument that a small increase in longevity is amplified as (1) reductions in mortality at young ages increases natural selection for mechanisms of maintenance and repair at all older ages as well as increasing the potential for intergenerational transfers; (2) intergenerational transfers of resources from old to young increase fitness (e.g. through improved health, skill, and competitive ability) of the young and thus favour the presence of older individuals in a population; and (3) the division of labour increases both efficiency and innovation at all levels resulting in increased resources that can be invested. This is a theory framed around the longevity-oriented question posed two decades ago by George Sacher “Why do we live as long as we do?” rather than the more prevalent question today “Why do we age?” We describe the foundational principles and the main phases of our model for the evolution of longevity mediated through social organization and apply the concept specifically to human populations.


Life Span Parental Investment Demographic Transition Intergenerational Transfer Life Span Extension 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Springer 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • James R. Carey
    • 1
  • Debra S. Judge
    • 2
  1. 1.Dept. of EntomologyUniversity of CaliforniaDavisUSA
  2. 2.Dept. of AnthropologyUniversity of CaliforniaDavisUSA

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