University of Chicago

Population Growth Without Aging

Principal Investigators: Leonid Gavrilov, Natasha Gavrilova

Objections to the development of truly effective therapies against aging-related disease frequently include the claim that any such program would lead rapidly to dramatic overpopulation. Although compelling at first glance and difficult to dismiss out of hand, such arguments are reminiscent of the still-unfulfilled doomsday predictions of Thomas Malthus and his successors - Ehrlich, Hopkins and others - and a robust rebuttal was thus thought to be feasible.

During 2008-2009, SENS Foundation co-sponsored a demographic project conducted by Drs. Leonid Gavrilov and Natasha Gavrilova of the University of Chicago, designed to assess the potential impact of significantly extended lifespans on national populations. The results of the project were published in Rejuvenation Research in 2010; the full paper is available free in PubMed Central.

The central conclusion of the study was that even dramatically extended lifespans would constitute a surprisingly minor contributor to increases in population. In one dramatic example, a complete cessation of aging after age 60 - that is, no further age-related increase in mortality rates - resulted in only a 22% increase in population over a hundred years.

Following a positive reception of the initial analysis, SENS Research Foundation initiated in 2012 a more comprehensive biodemographic project at the University of Denver, building on the widely used International Futures forecasting system. The Denver project is designed to assess the impact not only of increased longevity per se, but also the extended years of healthy and productive life that would be expected to follow from the application of a rejuvenation biotechnology approach to the treatment of aging-related disease. Results from this study are expected by 2014.