You’ve Had Your Turn – The Case for Euthanizing Everyone at Age 65

by Marshall Brain

[This thought experiment was first published in the book “Death And Anti-Death, Volume 19” Ria University Press (December 25, 2021) ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 1934297356]

Human activities are driving a catastrophic level of global warming. This warming will soon make parts of the planet uninhabitable.[i] In addition, climate change combined with human activities like overfishing, rainforest destruction, plastic pollution and other bad habits are driving the planet’s sixth mass extinction event.[ii] There is no question that human beings are destroying Earth’s biosphere at an ever-increasing pace.

Faced with this situation, what steps should humanity take?

  • Should humanity immediately stop burning all forms of fossil fuels? Yes, obviously we should.
  • Should humanity immediately begin a massive global effort to extract excess carbon dioxide back out of the atmosphere? Yes, obviously we should.
  • Should humanity stop using plastic in single-use items[iii] and textiles? Yes, obviously we should.
  • Should humanity eliminate all human activity from rainforests and reverse all the destruction before the rainforest ecosystems collapse? Yes, obviously we should.
  • Should humanity set aside most of the oceans and at least half of the earth’s useful landmasses as human-free natural areas as advocated by E. O. Wilson[iv] and many others? Yes, obviously we should.
  • Should humanity impose a two-child policy globally to reverse human population growth?[v] Yes, obviously we should.

And there is one more obvious step humanity should take. We should cull some of humanity’s herd. We should immediately reduce the human population in a substantial way. To slow the deleterious effects that human beings are having on the planet, we need less humans walking the Earth. We need the human population to immediately start falling rather than growing. The number of humans today outstrips the planet’s carrying capacity.[vi] Reducing the human population immediately is therefore an obvious thing to do. The question is, which part of the herd should we cull?

I am here to advocate for euthanizing every human being who has reached the age of 65 or more, and to do so without exception planet-wide. When human beings reach the age of 65 years old, they are euthanized in a painless, uplifting, and celebratory manner. Human beings over the age of 65 cease to exist on planet Earth. In this thought experiment I hope to convince you that this would be a highly beneficial step for humanity to take for a variety of reasons, and a step that is fair to everyone.

This idea flies in the face of several social trends. For example, human lifespans have been lengthening for more than a century, roughly doubling from 40 years old in 1900 to 80 years old today.[vii] And today the race is on to create human immortality. This quest has been transformed by science. Right now, there are dozens of well-funded efforts attempting to radically extend human lifespans.[viii]

In this thought experiment I am proposing that we do the opposite. Instead of seeking immortality, humanity would be far better off if we cap human lifespans at the age of 65 and euthanize everyone 65 and older.

1. Why Eliminate the Elderly?

As I write this in the summer of 2021, the human population on planet Earth is approaching 8 billion people. The global population has quadrupled in a century, from 1.9 billion people in 1920.[ix] Currently, the population of people over the age of 65 planet-wide is 727 million.[x] This elderly group is also growing rapidly for two reasons: 1) the general expansion of the population as a whole, plus 2) the extension of lifespans.[xi] By euthanizing all humans age 65 and older, we reduce the size of the human population by nearly 10% in one stroke, with beneficial side-effects for everyone else.

If we are going to reduce the human population significantly and quickly, the elderly is the right group to choose:

  1. If we adopt a planet wide reduction in birthrates (for example with a two-child policy planet-wide) then children have already effectively been culled.
  2. The people between ages 19 and 64 are the productive members of society, and therefore the ones to keep alive. If anyone is going to solve the climate crisis and the world’s other problems, these are the creative and productive people who will do it.

If we are to cull any part of the herd, those 65 and older are the correct part to cull. The elderly are society’s greatest burden.

In addition, the elderly are the people nearest to death’s door. They are going to be dying anyway. We are simply accelerating the process slightly, with multiple benefits for everyone else.

One other factor should be considered. If any group of people on the planet are most culpable for the planet’s climate catastrophe, it is the elderly. They are the primary architects and enablers of this catastrophe, and they represent the societal inertia that keeps the status quo in place. If there is to be a more rapid transformation away from the ideas of the past, the elderly are the right group to eliminate.

2. The Societal Drag Caused by the Elderly

To a great degree, the productive class carries the unproductive elderly on its back, leading to a level of societal drag that increases with the growth of the elderly population.[xii] For example, the elderly consume a large portion of healthcare resources, which are an extremely expensive resource for the productive class to provide:

  • “per capita health care spending for the elderly is substantially higher than for the population as a whole”[xiii]
  • “Older adults use far more health care services than do younger groups”[xiv]
  • “Per capita lifetime [healthcare] expenditure is $316,600, a third higher for females ($361,200) than males ($268,700). Two-fifths of this difference owes to women’s longer life expectancy. Nearly one-third of lifetime expenditures is incurred during middle age, and nearly half during the senior years.”[xv]

   By eliminating the elderly, we eliminate a significant part of the world’s total healthcare bill.

   In the United States, the elderly are also able to receive a substantial transfer of wealth from the productive population in the form of Social Security payments (similar programs exist across the developed world). The productive class has Social Security and Medicare payments for the elderly deducted from its paychecks at the rate of 15.3%.[xvi] Approximately one sixth of the nation’s payroll is diverted from the productive class and handed to the elderly, and this amount is certain to increase in the future.[xvii] To put it another way, for every 6 workers, one of them is working exclusively to support the elderly. With the elderly gone, this transfer of wealth and the societal drag it embodies ends immediately.

3. The Concentration of Wealth

   As I write this in the Summer of 2021, Jeff Bezos is 57 years old. He is the richest man in the world and Fortune magazine estimates his net worth just north of $200 billion.[xviii]

   Now let us imagine two things. First, let’s imagine that Jeff can use his billions of dollars to fund a pharmaceutical and/or genetic innovation that lets him live for an additional 100 years, to the age of 157.[xix] Second, let’s assume that he is able to earn 10% annual interest (accounting for inflation) on the wealth he possesses today. If we plug a 10% annual return on $200 billion for 100 years into a spreadsheet, what happens? Next year Jeff will have $220 billion. The year after that he will have $242 billion. And so on. The power of compounding is relentless and can be amazing. Therefore in 100 years he will have $2.75 quadrillion. He won’t be a trillionaire, which is already absurd. He will be a quadrillionaire. Through the power of compounding returns, he will increase his wealth by a factor of 13,750.

   How much is a quadrillion dollars? It really is difficult to even imagine it. But here is an example. The United States has approximately 70 million single-unit detached houses.[xx] The average value of an American house today is $270,000.[xxi] For Jeff to buy all of the houses in America he will need “only” $19 trillion. He will have enough money to own them all around age 115. By the time he reaches the age of 157, he will have enough money to buy all of the houses in America 150 times over. In other words, he will have enough money to buy roughly all of the houses on planet Earth.

   One question to ask here is whether 10% per year is a valid percentage. Can Jeff really earn 10% per year (accounting for inflation)? Let’s take MacKenzie Scott, Jeff’s estranged former wife, as an example. Dan Price points out that two years ago she was worth $36 billion.[xxii] Today she is worth $60 billion, and she has given away $8 billion. In Dan’s words, “she literally can’t give it away fast enough.” Going from $36 billion to $68 billion in two years represents an annual rate of return of 50%, not 10%. 10% is likely to be a conservative number. Jeff might be worth $10 quadrillion or more in 100 years.

   The accumulating wealth of Jeff Bezos is just one tiny example of the problems that will arise if we extend typical human lifespans out to 150 or 200 years old. There are hundreds of billionaire’s like Jeff[xxiii] who will also be accumulating vast amounts of wealth over their extended lifespans. But even more insidious will be the concentrating wealth amongst the millions of millionaires all over the planet.[xxiv] The millionaires plus the billionaires make up a tiny percentage of humanity (0.8%), but they will be owning practically all of the wealth. With their extended lifespans, they will be able to grab more and more and more of humanity’s wealth until the rest of humanity has essentially nothing.

   By capping the maximum age of every human at 65 years old, we release the wealth of these super-wealthy people upon their deaths rather than letting it keep accumulating for another 100 years. With properly formulated inheritance, income and wealth taxes, almost all of their wealth can be recycled back into society for the benefit of everyone.

4. The Prince Charles Problem

   Prince Charles of Britain[xxv] is not a particularly sympathetic figure in the tapestry of human history. And monarchies – even superficial ones as seen in England – have no place in modern society. Nonetheless, Prince Charles is the poster child for a problem that all of society is facing. The problem is simple: Geriatric people are holding onto the plum jobs and powerful positions in our society rather than relinquishing them to younger generations. Thus, the elderly have far more power in our society than they should. We now live in a gerontocracy.[xxvi]

   In the case of Prince Charles: as I write this his mother Queen Elizabeth II[xxvii] is 95 years old and has refused to retire. Therefore, Prince Charles has been unable to take the throne and he is now 72 years old himself. Had his mother been properly euthanized at age 65, Prince Charles would have ascended to the throne at age 42. He would have served from age 42 to at most age 65, and then Prince William would have then taken the helm at age 32.

   Queen Elizabeth II could conceivably live for another 10 or 15 years – she is female, she (apparently) has good longevity genes, and she can afford the best care that the modern medical-industrial complex has to offer. Time will tell. If she were to live this long, Prince Charles could very well be dead having never ascended to the throne.

   We see this unfortunate problem occurring across the United States in an extreme way. As I write this, 50 senators in the United States congress are over the age of 65[xxviii]. President Biden is 78 years old, and he was a sitting senator during the Vietnam war. Former President Trump is 75. House Speaker Pelosi is 81 and Senate minority leader McConnell is 79. America is ruled by a class of ancient people, many with declining mental faculties. They also grew up and lived their formative years in an era entirely divorced from the realities of today. When these ancients were growing up and becoming productive, there were no computers, no internet, no climate risks, etc. When Pelosi and McConnell and Biden were born around 1940, World War II was just getting started. The positions they hold would be held by much younger people if everyone were euthanized at age 65, and society would be better for it.

   The same is true in corporate life. Many key positions, powerful positions in American corporations are held by the elderly, who refuse to give up their positions of power. An extreme example is Rupert Murdock, now age 90.

   To everyone like Rupert Murdock we should say: You’ve had your turn, now get off the playground and let the other kids play. An easy way to accomplish this is to euthanize people when they reach the age of 65. It gives everyone else a chance.

5. Think of Planet Earth as an Amusement Park

   Think about the kind of amusement parks we have on Earth today. For example, think about a place like Disney World. In a typical amusement park like this, guests buy a ticket, they get to experience the park for a day, and then they leave when the park closes. The next day a new group of guests come and experience the park. By and large, every guest in the park gets equal and fair access to the rides and amenities.

   Now think of planet Earth as a giant amusement park. If planet Earth is an amusement park, then we each are born, we get to experience the park for one human lifespan, and then we leave the park when we die. Each birth is essentially a ticket that gives a person access to the Planet Earth Amusement Park.

   If we were to think through this analogy, then objectively we would have to rate Planet Earth as one of the worst amusement parks ever created. The problem is that the “tickets” people receive to enter the park are largely biased by the location of their birth and/or the social position of their parents, resulting in gigantic inequities. The Planet Earth Amusement Park can be pretty great if you are a person living in a developed country. But not many people receive these tickets – The United States, Canada, many European countries, Australia, New Zealand, Japan and South Korea make the list, but their populations amount to less than 20% of the total human population.[xxix] This 20% gets to hog all of the best rides. And they also get to disproportionally pollute the planet in ways that will cause suffering worldwide. For example, the United States produces 15% of the world’s greenhouse gases while having only 4% of the world’s population.[xxx]

   Looking at the life of a typical person living in a country like Bangladesh gives you a taste of the egregious disparity found in the Planet Earth Amusement Park. Approximately 165 million people live in the Bangladesh part of the park in 2021. The per capita GDP of Bangladesh is only $2,100,[xxxi] compared to Norway with a per capita GDP of $68,000 – a 33X difference.[xxxii] The population of Bangladesh is largely living in squalor. They get to ride none of the cool rides that people in the developed part of the park get to ride – they will never own iPhones or washing machines, they will never live in decent housing, they will never go to Disney World or anything even vaguely similar. Because of its elevation, much of Bangladesh will disappear as sea levels rise. And because of global heating, it is quite possible that much of Bangladesh will become uninhabitable as daytime wet bulb temperatures increase. Unfortunately, the 165 million souls living in Bangladesh will have nowhere to go unless a massive transformation in the global ethos takes place.

   If humanity were a rational and fair species, the population of Bangladesh would not be living in squalor now. Everyone on Earth would have approximately the same standard of living. Ignoring this inequity and looking instead toward the future, what should humanity do for the 165 million people of Bangladesh given the changes that are coming? We could have a long discussion about it. Unfortunately, the global situation will eventually become dire as many countries will share Bangladesh’s fate. Very likely we will end up building a fence around Bangladesh and letting the population die of either heat exposure, starvation or drowning. The same fate awaits much of Africa, Central and South America, and swaths of Asia as well. Since humanity will continue burning fossil fuels for the foreseeable future, global temperatures will continue increasing. There will be “nothing” that the developed nations can do to save the rest of humanity when environmental catastrophe ramps up in earnest.

   In this context, where billions of people will be dying in the Planet Earth Amusement Park from heat, starvation and drowning, does it make sense that we should be extending human lifespans for the select few who happen to be living in the developed world? That seems absurd, grotesque. It is completely unfair.

   One tiny way to acknowledge this incredible disparity is to instead cap the lifespans of everyone in the park at 65 years. By 65 years of age, a human being has had more than enough time to enjoy the Planet Earth Amusement Park. 65-year-olds have had their turn. Now it is time for them to leave the park so that other people have a chance to enjoy it. Their departure is fair to everyone.

6. Younger People Become Irrelevant

   Figure 1 shows the population pyramid of the United States today according to the U.S. Census Bureau:

Figure 1 – United States Population Pyramid[xxxiii]

  Now imagine that the pharmaceutical industry releases an inexpensive pill that increases human lifespans to an average of 150 years. Imagine this pill is called Lifeomax. After 50 years with the Lifeomax pill in place, the population pyramid would start to look approximately like this assuming a steady state birth rate and no major catastrophes:

Figure 2 – United States Population Pyramid under the influence of the Lifeomax pill.

   You can see that two things are happening in Figure 2. First, the population of the United States has increased dramatically, growing by 200 million people. This makes sense because no one is dying of old age anymore. Second, the band of productive people, ages 20 to 64, is becoming an insignificant part of the population. It is being overwhelmed by the group of people over the age of 65, and this trend will only get worse.

   There are at least three significant problems that arise in this scenario. The first is that the planet needs the human population to fall, not rise. The Lifeomax pill makes the human population problem much more troubling, especially if the Lifeomax pill is adopted globally.

   Even worse, all of the people who should be dying in the natural course of events will now take the Lifeomax pill and extend their stays indefinitely. Pelosi, McConnell, all the elderly senators and their political ilk will very likely cling to power for decades more. Rupert Murdock and his ilk will likely continue controlling the media. Bezos, Gates, Buffet, Musk, etc. will continue amassing incomprehensible amounts of wealth. The aging millionaires will continue holding all of the plum CEO, VP, Chief and Director slots in the economy. The younger people of planet Earth will be left with the economic dregs because the elderly – the gerontocracy – will hoard everything.

   A side effect of the previous paragraph is that the natural death of bad ideas will end. Societal evolution will slow to a crawl. Ideas that need to die will last long past their natural expiration dates. A society’s mechanism for diminishing and eventually purging bad ideas and bad tendencies is the death of the people holding on to those ideas. The Lifeomax pill will allow bad ideas and obsolete ideas to fester far longer than they should.

   By rejecting the Lifeomax pill and instead euthanizing everyone at age 65, these problems disappear. We return to the natural order of things, where people die at a reasonable age rather than hogging the power, the planet, the wealth, the economy and everything else that matters for themselves.

7. No Need for “Retirement”

   Think back to the creation of the Social Security system in the United States in 1935. Why was 65 years of age selected as the start for Social Security payments? Because, at that time, average life expectancy in the United States was ~62 years old. Living to be 65 years old was not the norm, but rather something of a rarity. In 1935, very few people in the United States population (less than a million) made it to their 80s, and just a few million made it to their 70s. Today there are 15 million people in their 80s+. In 10 years the number of people in their 80s will exceed 20 million, and in 10 more years it could be 30 million.[xxxiv] The point being that the Social Security system is having to carry far more elderly people for much longer periods of time, and this problem gets worse and worse in the future as life expectancies extend further.[xxxv]

   A secondary problem is that the Social Security system today does not provide enough money for the elderly to rise much above the poverty level. Only a relatively small portion of the elderly population can save enough money to provide for a better standard of living in their retirement years.[xxxvi] In addition, the amount of money that needs to be saved is uncertain because there is no way to know how long any given person might live.

   These problems disappear if we euthanize everyone uniformly at age 65. We no longer need a Social Security system. We no longer need 401(k)s and other forms of retirement savings. Instead, people die on a schedule as their productive years end.

   A person who retires today at age 65 can conceivably live to be 95. The idea of saving enough money to last for 30 years is absurd for the large majority of people. At the same time, asking the productive population to support a retired population that is doing nothing productive for 30 years is also absurd. By euthanizing everyone at age 65, these absurdities are eliminated.

   This would provide for a change in perspective. Instead of waiting until retirement to travel, enjoy hobbies and so on, people would move these activities into their younger years when they are better able to enjoy them. Without needing to save money for a future retirement, the money could be spent in the present.

8. Death Is What Gives Life Meaning

   For thousands of years, humanity’s greatest thinkers have seen the beauty of death. For example:

  • “By becoming deeply aware of our mortality, we intensify our experience of every aspect of life” – Robert Greene
  • “Death may be the greatest of all human blessings” – Socrates
  • “It is natural to die as to be born” – Sir Francis Bacon
  • “The goal of all life is death” – Sigmund Freud
  • “It’s only when we truly know and understand that we have a limited time on earth – and that we have no way of knowing when our time is up – that we will begin to live each day to the fullest, as if it was the only one we had” – Elisabeth Kubler-Ross
  • “Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose” – Steve Jobs
  • “Death never takes a wise man by surprise; he is always ready to go” – Jean de la Fontaine
  • “There is no cure for birth and death save to enjoy the interval. The dark background which death supplies brings out the tender colours of life in all their purity” – George Santayana
  • “Birth and death are the most singular events we experience – and the contemplation of death, as of birth, should be a thing of beauty, not ignobility” – Jacob K. Javits
  • “Because life is fragile and death inevitable, we must make the most of each day” – Thomas S. Monson

   There are innumerable quotes like these from people both famous and unknown. All of them celebrate death and acknowledge the reality of death. The idea that death gives meaning to life has been a central tenant for centuries. By euthanizing everyone at age 65, we preserve the sanctity of life and we put death on a schedule, for everyone’s benefit. Not only does everyone die, but they all die predictably at the same age.

9. “Thank God She Finally Died”

   A friend of mine recently lost her mother, and another friend lost his father around the same time. When offering my condolences, they confided in me, “Thank God they finally died. It is such a relief.” Elder care has become a nightmare for millions of families. “According to the most recent data from the AARP, an estimated 41.8 million people, or 16.8 percent of the population, currently provides care for an adult over 50.”[xxxvii]

   There are many problems that the elderly create for the rest of society, but the modern medical-industrial complex has developed a new one, as best exemplified by an acquaintance. She was a victim of Alzheimer’s disease in her early 70s, becoming a useless husk of a human being. Having lost knowledge of herself, her past, and those around her, her living had no meaning or purpose. Yet the medical-industrial complex was able to keep this husk alive in a nursing home at great expense to the government for 25 more years.

   Every elderly person eventually dies. While some of them do die uneventfully in their sleep, a good percentage of them will not. They will get cancer, contract diabetes, have a stroke, suffer from dementia and so on, sometimes in combination.[xxxviii] Millions will end up in nursing homes or suffering in the hospital or hospice. The cost of this care is gigantic and funded either by dwindling savings or the productive class via the government.

   Walk into a modern nursing home. You will find it filled primarily with frail women hobbling in their walkers or rolled around in wheelchairs.[xxxix] For the most part they are doing nothing useful while waiting for death to come. The family, if it is paying, hopes their elders will die before all the inheritance is gone. And once every penny of inheritance has been extracted by the medical-industrial complex, the government continues paying to keep these husks alive. This is not a particularly complimentary way to look at the nursing home population, but there is no need to sugar-coat it. Generally speaking, once a human being needs nursing home care, they are done.  

   The goal of the medical-industrial complex can be perverse when it comes to this segment of the population. It could be argued that the ideal is to keep the elderly alive and in need of medical attention indefinitely. Once their personal assets are gone via Medicare, the complex will continue to keep them alive as long as possible because the government starts paying the bills via Medicaid.

  • “Another big impersonal force is the rise in medical costs, which has coincided with political decisions to have Medicare pay for a smaller share of elder health care. The longer people live, the higher the medical costs.”[xl]
  • “The study also went on to point out that the cost of taking care of medical issues is a common theme recurring within the majority of elderly bankruptcy filers.”[xli]
  • “While Medicare helps most older adults pay for health care, gaps in the program’s coverage, high premiums, and cost-sharing requirements mean people with Medicare can face significant health-related out-of-pocket costs… In 2013, the average Medicare beneficiary’s out-of-pocket spending on health care consumed 41% of the average Social Security check, and that figure is likely to rise.”[xlii]
  • “an example of a 70-year-old woman who has a common combination of hypertension, myocardial infarction, depression, diabetes mellitus, and osteoporosis. Based on the adherence to disease guidelines, the patient may be required to take aspirin, an ACE inhibitor, a beta-blocker, a bisphosphonate, calcium, a diuretic, a selective serotonin-reuptake inhibitor, a statin, a sulfonylurea drug, perhaps a thiazolidinedione, and vitamin D.”[xliii]

   What this means is that a great many of our elderly are robbed of any savings and assets they might possess, eliminating any inheritance to the next generation.

   By capping human lifespans at age 65, this problem largely disappears. People are able to live a full human life, and then they die gracefully on a schedule.  

10. The Chance to Celebrate Life

   There are many things that can be dreadful about death in the modern world:

  • As mentioned, the medical-industrial complex is trying to drain every last penny it can from you, or from the government on your behalf.
  • Your children, heirs and loved ones may come to hate you as your health declines and you continually require care into your 70s and 80s. Even if you would prefer to die and avoid being a burden like this, you are denied this option.
  • If you lived your productive life on the lower end of the economic spectrum, social security payments will ensure that you live the remainder of your life near the poverty line until you die.
  • The funeral-industrial complex will try to extract as much money as it possibly can upon your demise.
  • You will die at a random time, sometimes the most inconvenient time possible for those who care about you.
  • In addition, you may run out of retirement savings long before you die, because your lifespan is a random number.

   All of these problems can be eliminated if we can put the death date of every human being on a defined schedule.

   What if we knew that everyone would die on a known date, on their 65th birthday? Then we could schedule a life celebration and show people the appreciation they deserve as they exit planet Earth.

  • “The bitterest tears shed over graves are for words left unsaid and deeds left undone” – Harriet Beecher-Stowe
  • “They say such nice things about people at their funerals that it makes me sad that I’m going to miss mine by just a few days” – Garrison Keillor

   We can see this phenomenon whenever someone dies prematurely. Think about what happened when these people died in their prime:

  • Michael Jackson
  • Whitney Houston
  • Heath Ledger
  • John F. Kennedy
  • Martin Luther King

   It happens all the time. The person dies, and THEN we see a huge outpouring of support, gratitude, memories, celebrated achievements, posthumous awards and so on. The funeral occurs but the honored guest does not get to attend and feel all this love.

   Now imagine that we flip it around. We schedule each person’s death at the age of 65-years-old, and we have the celebration of their life BEFORE they die. The celebrant gets a chance to feel the love, to say their goodbyes gracefully, and to die in peace, having been able to live a full human life.

11. Conclusion

   Humanity is destroying the planet’s ecosystem. There are a number of things that humanity must do to reverse the destruction. One thing that would be highly beneficial and easy to achieve is an immediate reduction of humanity’s population.

   Which part of the population should humanity eliminate? It is easy to cut the birth rate – China’s one-child policy demonstrates feasibility. But significant effects will not be felt for decades.

   Therefore, the logical part of the human herd to cull is the elderly. The interesting thing is that, upon analysis of this option, we realize a sizeable number of benefits and advantages without any significant downside. If we euthanize everyone on the planet at the age of 65:

  1. It is fair to everyone, as everyone gets to live a full human life to age 65.
  2. It is beneficial to the elderly, as they get to have a scheduled rather than a random death date and a scheduled celebration of their life. This life celebration happens while the person is still alive. It is uplifting and celebratory rather than being depressing like a funeral.
  3. The productive class sheds the enormous burden of carrying the elderly on their backs. In some countries, this burden could soon become oppressive.[xliv]
  4. A significant portion of healthcare spending is eliminated worldwide.
  5. There is no need for retirement savings, financial advisors, 401(k) accounts, Social Security payments and all the rest.
  6. With the elderly gone, all of their positions in the government and the economy open up to younger people. Today’s gerontocracy is eliminated.
  7. Old ideas, bad ideas and prejudices held by the elderly also die on schedule.
  8. The enormous concentration of wealth represented by the world’s millionaires and billionaires gets released for the benefit of society (assuming proper formulation of income, wealth and inheritance taxes worldwide – see for example the global minimum tax deal as a demonstration of the possibilities).[xlv]
  9. The suffering and medical costs borne by many of the elderly at the end of their lives are eliminated by a timely death at age 65, before serious bodily degradation occurs in old age.
  10. Assets of the elderly pass on to the next generation on a reasonable inheritance schedule and without being devoured by the medical-industrial complex.
  11. The living gain the many advantages of a 10% smaller human population on planet Earth, along with slowing population growth.
  12. And so on…

   What is the downside? Someone is bound to frame it as, “You’re killing Grandma!” But Grandma is going to die anyway (and she may be stripped of all her assets in the process by the medical-industrial complex). By age 65 she has had the chance to live a full and fulfilling life. We are simply scheduling her death rather than having it occur on a random date – something that is completely fair when applied uniformly to everyone – and humanity is gaining a dozen important benefits with this one small change. The world would be a better place if we start capping lifespans at age 65.

About the Author

Marshall Brain is best known as the founder of[xlvi] His most recent book is “The Doomsday Book” from Sterling Press.[xlvii]

[i] “Life in the tropics could become impossible if we don’t reduce our emissions” by Fermin Koop, ZME Science, 3/11/2021,

[ii] “Vertebrates on the brink as indicators of biological annihilation and the sixth mass extinction”, by Gerardo Ceballos,  Paul R. Ehrlich, and Peter H. Raven, PNAS, 6/16/2020,

[iii]  “Single-Use Plastics 101” by Courtney Lindwall, National Resources Defense Council, 1/9/2020,

[iv] “The Half-Earth Project”,

[v] “Population pyramids: Powerful predictors of the future”, by Kim Preshof, TED Ed, 5/5/2014,

[vi] “We are exceeding Earth’s carrying capacity. Denying it is suicidal” by Richard Heinberg, Quartz, 8/3/2018,

[vii] “Life Expectancy”, 10/29/2021,

[viii] “Meet the companies that want you to live forever”, Uncubed,

[ix] “Estimates of Historical World Population”, 10/29/2021,

[x] “World Population Ageing 2020”, United Nations, 2020,

[xi] “Life expectancy in 2019” by /u/woodest, Reddit, 10/27/2021,

[xii] “The staggering, exhausting, invisible costs of caring for America’s elderly” by Anne Helen Petersen, Vox, 8/26/ 2021,

[xiii] “Medical Spending of the Elderly”, Bulletin on Aging and Health, 6/2/15,

[xiv] “Retooling for an Aging America: Building the Health Care Workforce” by Institute of Medicine (US) Committee on the Future Health Care Workforce for Older Americans, 2008,

[xv] “The Lifetime Distribution of Health Care Costs” by Berhanu Alemayehu and Kenneth E Warner, National Center for Biotechnology Information, 6/1/2004,

[xvi] “Social Security and Medicare Withholding Rates”, IRS,

[xvii] “Social Security’s Funding Shortfall”, Congressional Research Service, 9/3/2021,

[xviii] “Amazon’s Jeff Bezos surpasses $200 billion net worth, topping Tesla’s Musk” by Thomas Barrabi, Fox Business, 4/30/2021

[xix] “Meet Altos Labs, Silicon Valley’s latest wild bet on living forever” by Antonio Regalado, Technology Review, 9/4/2021,

[xx] “United States Housing Statistics” by U.S. Census Bureau, InfoPlease,

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