Survival and Longevity
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The Laboratory of Survival and Longevity, headed by James W. Vaupel and Jutta Gampe, studies the aging of human populations, covering a multitude of aspects.
Better survival and thus increasing longevity shape the demography in most developed countries as well as in many parts of the developing world. Understanding the mechanisms that brought about this life-span revolution and assessing the impact that longer and longer lives will have on current and future generations is the core of the Laboratory’s research.
People do live longer but do they necessarily age more slowly? Or is increasing longevity the product of continuously improving health, which leads to constantly dropping death rates, but leaves the rate of aging unchanged? The Laboratory of Survival and Longevity researches into this fundamental question at the intersection of biodemography and epidemiology, mathematical and statistical demography. Researchers in the Laboratory closely collaborate with members of the Laboratory of Evolutionary Biodemography and Statistical Demography to aid our understanding of the aging process in humans and beyond.
Insights into the mechanisms of how better health and survival have been promoted in the past and what determines health and mortality of the elderly are important questions for the prospects of aging populations. Researchers in the Laboratory perform studies that shed light on these mechanisms, making use of data on particular scenarios, such as natural experiments or populations that are submitted to specific conditions. The impact can be beneficial, such as German unification, or detrimental, such as stress-related hazards in Russia or populations exposed to chronic behavioral or environmental strain. Studies on the oldest-old, including supercentenarians (individuals aged 110 or above) contribute to our knowledge of human mortality in the extremes.
Demography can build on a wealth of data, and the Institute’s Laboratory of Demographic Data provides rich resources of vital data, collected in collaboration with other international research institutes. But a proper analysis by sophisticated methodology is needed to make full use of rich data sources. The Laboratory of Survival and Longevity has a long tradition in developing formal demographic models for mortality research and demographic analyses more generally. Researchers in the Laboratory continue to provide analytical tools, including forecasting methods.
Population aging is a consequence of increasing longevity combined with low fertility, as is the case in many countries. This has noticeable consequences on individuals, families and society, and poses a challenge for the demographic, economic, and political future in many countries. Members of the Laboratory of Survival and Longevity also perform research on several aspects of population aging.
Latest Press Release of the Department
Effect of the fall of the Berlin Wall: Three hours of life per euro - Each additional euro eastern Germans received in benefits from pensions and public health insurance after reunification accounted for three additional hours of life expectancy.(October 15, 2014)