Why age doesn’t matter in the US election
In a paper published in the Journal on Active Aging, University of Illinois longevity researcher S. Jay Olshansky and his colleagues conclude that both 2020 US presidential candidates - former Vice President Joe Biden, 77, and President Donald Trump, 74 - are likely to maintain their health beyond the end of the next presidential term.
As a result, they say that chronological age and fitness should not be factors in the 2020 election.
“It is our conclusion that chronological age is not a relevant factor for either candidate running for President of the United States,” the authors write.
“Both candidates face a lower than average risk of experiencing significant health or cognitive functioning challenges during the next four years.”
To evaluate each candidate’s likelihood of surviving a four-year term in office, the researchers scientifically evaluated the candidates’ health status based on publicly available medical records and confirmed publicly available personal information.
The medical records of each candidate were independently evaluated by three medical doctors with experience in ageing and a team of research scientists with expertise in epidemiology, public health, survival analysis, and statistics.
This is the first time that the medical records and personal attributes of presidential candidates have been scientifically evaluated by physicians and scientists in the field of ageing.
The key findings of the study:
- Biden and Trump are likely to be “super-agers,” a subgroup of people that maintain their mental and physical functioning and tend to live longer than the average person their age.
- Both candidates have a higher than average probability of surviving a four-year term in office, relative to other men their age. For Biden, the probability of surviving the next four years is 95.2 per cent (vs. 82.2 per cent). For Trump, this is 90.3 per cent (vs. 86.2 per cent).
- Biden is expected to outlive Trump, even though he is three years older. In the paper, the researchers note Biden’s “nearly perfect health profile for a man his age,” compared with Trump’s “significant but modifiable” risk factors.
- While Trump is noted to have an elevated familial risk of late-onset Alzheimer’s disease, neither candidate is expected to have major cognitive functioning challenges now or during the next four years.
The next elected president of the United States will be the oldest in American history.
In 1984, Ronald Regan, then age 73, when asked about his advanced age, said “I want you to know that also I will not make age an issue of this campaign. I am not going to exploit, for political purposes, my opponent’s youth and inexperience.”
Are you surprised at the age of the two US presidential candidates? Do you think they will be abe to serve a full term unhindered by health or mental decline?