Several items in the lay press today point to the shape of things to come. According to this AP item, the average life expectancy of Americans crept up to 78 years in 2005. Although this a modest incremental increase compared to the previous year, we are making steady progress in the War on Death. Mortality from the top three killers (heart disease, cancer and stroke) has fallen, but the incidence of death by Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases has risen. The CDC has the full (preliminary) report here. Another report reveals that Americans are staying the workforce longer. The Census Bureau’s American Community Survey (here) also suggests that, despite retiring at a chronologically later point, Americans also spend a greater fraction of their lives in retirement, thanks to extended longevity.

Meanwhile, one Russian province is fighting its changing demographic profile by proposing an official Day of Conception with prizes for couples that deliver the goods exactly nine months later (read about it here). Since the fall of the Soviet Union, Russia has seen increased mortality by many of the diseases that elsewhere have been retreating, with an added bonus of alcoholism.