The researchers compared populations of hunter-gatherers who live like our ancestors did and rely exclusively on their own foraging skills, to those that have some access to Western clothing, food and medicine experience a big boost in survival. Their findings appear in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
For developed nations, improvements have been even more dramatic, with the biggest gains in infant mortality. For today's babies in the longest-lived places, the chances of surviving are 200 to 300-fold better than for people born into conditions like those our ancestors faced.
The scale of improvement drops in later decades, but the differences are still significant. A 65-year old hunter-gatherer has about a 5 per cent chance of dying over the next year, for example, compared to a less than 1 per cent chance of death for a 65-year-old person living in Japan.
Through age 15, hunter-gatherers experience rates of death more than 100 times higher than do today's Japanese. Over the course of the entire lifespan, mortality rates are 10 times higher. And a 15-year-old hunter-gatherer and a 69-year-old Swede face the same chances of dying in the next year.
and I am always impressed by the shows that discuss paleopathology: How skeletons from the past had advanced arthritis in their 20's and 30's (especially if they were poor or soldiers).
so when you read all those "scare" articles on huge numbers of elderly we will have to care for in the future, remember in the past they cared for elders of age 55, not to mention those crippled from accidents, or illnesses (strokes from high blood pressure from the high salt diet due to eating salted fish, infectious diseases like TB that made you weak, or the post infection lassitude from pneumonia, typhoid, etc. that left you weak for months afterward, those crippled by polio or left injured in child birth etc).