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December 1, 1951


JAMA. 1951;147(14):1328-1330. doi:10.1001/jama.1951.03670310018006

We are all aware that a progressively larger proportion of our national population is comprised of middle-aged and older people. In the past 50 years, the average life expectancy of the American people has increased from 49¼ to 67½ years. As a result of this increased life expectancy, the number of persons in our nation who are 65 years of age and over has quadrupled since the turn of the century, while the over-all population figure has only doubled. Today 1 out of 12 persons in our country is over 65 years of age; by 1975 this number will soar to 1 out of every 9 persons.

The increase in average life expectancy has not been associated with a proportionate increase in working-life expectancy. The gap between retirement and death now stands at five and one-half years; about double the length of that in 1900. Under the present trend it

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