Other Free Encyclopedias » Medicine Encyclopedia » Aging Healthy - Part 4 » Status of Older People: Tribal Societies - Longevity, The Cultural Construction Of Elders And Older Adulthood, Gender And Age, Old Age In Myth And Folklore

Status of Older People: Tribal Societies - Longevity

age age life percent survive

There is a lack of good longevity data from tribal societies, especially prior to the drastic dislocations of these societies during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries caused by the colonial expansion of European nations. What data exists indicates that only about 10 percent of those born will survive beyond age sixty, compared to well over 80 percent in the United States. Average life expectancy within tribal settings tends to be low, typically less than thirty years of age, primarily due to high levels of infant and child mortality. As a result, only about 3 percent of a village population contain persons over age sixty-five (Weiss). However, those who survive until their fifth and sixth decades of life are often exceptionally fit by Western standards. People in such societies do in fact sometimes survive the full human life span, into their ninth or tenth decades. It is also important to note that reports of extraordinary life spans of over 120 years reported during the 1970s for tribal peoples of the Korakoram mountains of Pakistan or among Abkhasian peasants in the Caucasus region of the former Soviet Union have been completely discredited (Cowgill). Such erroneous reports were based on systematic age exaggeration, confusing and fraudulent written documentation and small sample sizes.

Status of Older People: Tribal Societies - The Cultural Construction Of Elders And Older Adulthood [next]

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