Thursday, October 12, 2006

A Longer Life for What?

Daniel Goleman has once again pointed out that humans, as much as they are individual-rational beings, are social- emotional beings. The author of Emotional Intelligence and newly published Social Intelligence said that
Research on the link between relationships and physical health has established that people with rich personal networks — who are married, have close family and friends, are active in social and religious groups — recover more quickly from disease and live longer.
We often consider "a long life" as something good. However, an NYT article last month offered an alternative food for thought: would we (as society) rather have "a longer life or more stuff"?

This question in is more contextual in the US, where
The average cost of a family insurance plan ... has risen another 7.7 percent this year, to $11,500 ... In only seven years, the cost has doubled, while incomes and company revenue, which pay for health insurance, haven’t risen nearly as much.
"A longer life" means significant costs in the form of lost (economic) opportunity. In advanced countries, this translates mostly to money spent for healthcare. In developing ones, time spent by the family to take care of the old.

The first article pointed out how to enjoy life (and quickly recover from diseases) while we're still productive. The second one asked how long do we "need" to live anyway, especially if we're no longer productive or have become a "burden" for others.

What do you think?

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