Journal Article

Long-term trends in the longevity of scientific elites: evidence from the British and the Russian academies of science

Andreev, E. M., Jdanov, D. A., Shkolnikov, V. M., Leon, D. A.

Population Studies, 65:3, 319-334 (2011)


Keywords: Russian Federation, United Kingdom


National science academies represent intellectual elites and vanguard groups in the achievement of longevity. We estimated life expectancy (LE) at age 50 of members of the British Royal Society (RS) for the years 1670–2007 and of members of the Russian Academy of Sciences (RAS) for the years 1750–2006. The longevity of academicians was higher than that of their corresponding national populations, with the gap widening from the 1950s. Since the 1980s, LE in the RS has been higher than the maximum LE among all high-income countries. In each period, LE in the RS was greater than in the RAS, although since the 1950s it has risen in parallel in the two academies. This steep increase shared by academicians in Britain and Russia suggests that general populations have the potential for a substantial increase in survival to high ages.