Bio-Actuarial Studies of Human Longevity

Leonid Gavrilov and Natalia Gavrilova

This presentation will discuss recent biodemographic studies on human longevity, which may have actuarial significance. Topics include: inheritance of human longevity, impact of maternal and paternal ages at person's conception on person life span, biological explanations why parental-age effects may be important, current biological studies on the effects of month-of-birth on person's characteristics, including person's life span.  The recent controversy on the alleged infertility of long-living persons and problem of limits to human lifespan will also be discussed. For more information see the authors' website:

This lecture will take place on Thursday, March 18, 2004 at 3pm (duration of the talk - 1 hour)

The presentation will take place at:
BlueCross BlueShield of Illinois
300 East Randolph Street, CAL level
Northeast corner of Randolph and Columbus Drive,
Chicago, IL 60601

The Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois building is located at 300 EAST RANDOLPH STREET, in Chicago, just North of Grant Park, on the Northeast corner of Randolph Street and Columbus Drive, an easy walk from the Loop, and next to the AON/Standard Oil building. After checking in at the Security desk, proceed down to the CAL level.

To attend this lecture please register at:

Brief Outline of the Presentation:

Human biology and biodemographic studies of human longevity

Familial transmission of human longevity
-- Paradox of small narrow-sense heritability of human lifespan vs strong familial clustering of exceptional longevity
-- Major assumptions of quantitative genetics of lifespan -- linearity of offspring-on-parent dependence
-- Non-linear, threshold pattern of real offspring-on-parent dependencies
-- Biological explanations based on evolutionary theories (mutation accumulation theory) and developmental noise hypothesis

Parental-age effects
-- Mutations and their role in human populations. The concept of mutation load
-- Links between parental age at conception and mutation load
-- Real data on parental-age effects on person's characteristics including lifespan
-- Alternative explanations of parental-age effects

Early-life programming of human longevity
-- Concept of developmental noise
-- Evidence for the importance of early-life conditions for later-life outcomes
-- Month-of-birth effects on person's characteristics, including life span
-- Methodological challenges in data analysis and interpretation

Longevity vs fecundity
--  Evolutionary theories of aging and longevity, and the idea of trade-offs between longevity and fertility
--  Earlier publications and methodological challenges
--  Recent findings and forthcoming publications

Limits to human lifespan
-- mortality decline before the 1950s and the Gompertz-Makeham law
-- new trend of mortality decline in the second half of the 20th century
-- late-life mortality deceleration, leveling-off, and late-life mortality plateaus