What is the relationship between longevity and health? Health expectancies were developed more than 30 years ago specifically to answer this question. It may therefore be the time to try to answer this question, though it is worth noting that the question implies a unidirectional relationship. Almost no one questions the positive association between health and longevity. It is expected that healthy, robust people will live, on average, longer than frail people. This heterogeneity in terms of robustness/frailty may explain the shape of the mortality trajectory with age, ie. the oldest old seem to follow a lower mortality schedule (Vaupel et al, 1979). On the other hand, many people wonder about the relationship between longevity and health. Are we living longer because we are in better health? Are we living longer in good health? Or are we merely surviving longer whatever our health status? In other words, can we live in good health as long as we can survive? And this is exactly the purpose of health expectancies: monitoring how long people live in various health statuses (Sanders, 1964; Sullivan, 1971; Robine et al, 2003a).
Quality in Ageing and Older Adults – Emerald Publishing
Published: Jun 14, 2009
Keywords: Longevity; Health; Morbidity; Disability; Life expectancy
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