Skip to main content

Thank you for visiting You are using a browser version with limited support for CSS. To obtain the best experience, we recommend you use a more up to date browser (or turn off compatibility mode in Internet Explorer). In the meantime, to ensure continued support, we are displaying the site without styles and JavaScript.


Measuring our narrow strip of life


In line with previous research, a demographic analysis corroborates the presence of a limit to human lifespan, indicating that increases in life expectancy are likely to slow down or stop over the coming years.

This is a preview of subscription content

Access options

Rent or Buy article

Get time limited or full article access on ReadCube.


All prices are NET prices.

Figure 1: A limit to lifespan?

Alessandro Grassani/The New York Times/Eyevine


  1. 1.

    See all news & views


  1. 1

    Besant, A. in The Origins of Theosophy: Annie Besant — The Atheist Years (Routledge Revivals, 2015).

    Google Scholar 

  2. 2

    Dong, X., Milholland, B. & Vijg, J. Nature 538, 257–259 (2016).

    CAS  ADS  Article  Google Scholar 

  3. 3

    Riley, J. C. Rising Life Expectancy: A Global History (Cambridge Univ. Press, 2001).

    Book  Google Scholar 

  4. 4

    Olshansky, S. J., Carnes, B. A. & Cassel, C. Science 250, 634–640 (1990).

    CAS  ADS  Article  Google Scholar 

  5. 5

    Crimmins, E. Gerontologist 55, 901–911 (2015).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  6. 6

    Wilmoth, J. R., Deegan, L. J., Lundström, H. & Horiuchi, S. Science 289, 2366–2368 (2000).

    CAS  ADS  Article  Google Scholar 

  7. 7

    Vaupel, J. W. Nature 464, 536–542 (2010).

    CAS  ADS  Article  Google Scholar 

  8. 8

    Christensen, K., Doblhammer, G., Rau, R. & Vaupel, J. W. Lancet 374, 1196–1208 (2009).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  9. 9

    Carnes, B. A., Olshansky, S. J. & Hayflick, L. J. Gerontol. A 68, 136–142 (2013).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  10. 10

    Austad, S. N. J. Comp. Pathol. 142 (Suppl. 1), S10–S21 (2010).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  11. 11

    Human Mortality Database.

  12. 12

    Olshansky, S. J. in Aging: The Longevity Dividend (eds Olshansky, S. J., Martin, G. M. & Kirkland, J. L.) 221–237 (Cold Spring Harb. Lab. Press, 2016).

    Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information



Corresponding author

Correspondence to S. Jay Olshansky.

Related links

Related links

Related links in Nature Research

Ageing: A stretch in time

Ageing: A midlife longevity drug?

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Olshansky, S. Measuring our narrow strip of life. Nature 538, 175–176 (2016).

Download citation

Further reading


Quick links