Contributor Perspectives

We Are Not Our Great-Grandparents' Bodies

Ian Morris
Board of Contributors
Jun 12, 2019 | 20:14 GMT
Men line up at an army recruiting office in London in December 1915.

Men line up at an army recruiting office in London in December 1915. British recruiters were shocked by the generally poor health of men who enlisted in the military during World War I.


Medicine was one of the most important geopolitical forces of the 20th century, and it will remain so in the 21st. On the eve of World War I, British military recruiters were shocked to discover how unhealthy their troops were compared to Germans (let alone Americans, Canadians, Australians and New Zealanders). In our own age, though, the issues are rather different. Countries with good health care can extend the productive lives of their citizens, preserving human capital and improving the worker-dependent ratio. The graying of rich-world populations, as lifespans lengthen and fertility falls, need not be a negative -- although the rich world will face formidable challenges in finding the upside....

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