University of Denver

Opportunities and Challenges of a World with Negligible Senescence

Principal Investigators: Barry Hughes, Randall Kuhn

Research Team: Eli Margolese-Malin, Dale Rothman, José Solórzano

The purpose of this project is to break the boundaries of previous aging-oriented demographic analyses and to think broadly about the consequences of potentially increasing human healthspan. Initially, this project  will look at the issue globally and across the century, then follow with a look at a wide range of possible human futures across three dimensions of uncertainty:
1. The timing and pace of increase, were it to occur, in the rate of successful medical advances that increase healthspan
2. The pace and character of global diffusion of these advances
3. The extent of morbidity of older age cohorts in the case of these advances
This project will build on the foundation of the International Futures (IFs) forecasting system, which is widely established and used.  That system has important characteristics needed for the project:  strong and closely integrated models in many issue areas, including demographics, health, education, the economy, and physical resource (food and energy) and environmental models; free availability so that others can both explore its structure and replicate analyses with it; and ease of use to further facilitate use by others.
The project will proceed in three stages: 
1.  Basic demographic extensions of IFs and the addition of capability (parameters and controls) to frame the three dimensions of scenarios around widespread changes to typical human healthspan.
2. Complete aging-related extensions of IFs (in modules such as health and education) and initial explorations with the system.  Initial scenario analysis to discover and solve problems associated with the extensions and to begin scoping the scenario space.
3.  Extensions of IFs to represent the economic impacts of a full range of scenarios and undertaking/documenting the results of the scenarios for the broader IFs system, focusing on economic but not excluding sustainability variables.
Each stage of the project will culminate in the creation of a version of the IFs forecasting system that will allow use the system with the extensions undertaken and scenario capability added.  The third stage will produce a paper for publication submission.