James W. Vaupel, Research Professor at Duke’s Sanford School of Public Policy, Co-Director of the Biodemography of Aging Research Unit (BARU) within DUPRI, Faculty Research Scholar at DUPRI’s Center for Population Health and Aging (CPHA), and Founding Director of the Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research in Rostock, Germany recently visited Duke University to discuss an exciting new research project with BARU colleagues, Kenneth C. Land, Anatoliy Yashin and Eric Stallard. They are examining conventional age distributions of severe chronic disability and associated mortality for adults in the U.S. and other developed countries that have shown accelerations in the early older ages (65-75). In recent decades, however, these accelerations have been postponed to middle-old (75-85) and oldest-old (85+) ages. This project will: 1) document this postponement, 2) identify its physical and cognitive components, 3) study its variations by gender, race/ethnicity, and socioeconomic status, and other covariates, and 4) make projections of its future development during the coming decades.
Whether in Durham or Europe, Vaupel’s peers worldwide view his research as original and innovative. “Throughout his career Vaupel has integrated complex mathematical functions to interpret complex demographic life histories and to make projections of longevity in human populations,” said Angela O’Rand, Director of DUPRI. “In doing so, he has changed perceptions about the demography aging.”
Some of Vaupel's most important work has found that people in the developed world are living significantly longer than in the past, with life expectancies increasing by a steady 2·5 years per decade since 1840. His research has shown that the effects of aging are not inevitable and are being postponed. He is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and his long list of honors includes recognition from the Population Association of America’s Irene B. Taeuber Award (2001) for lifetime research achievements, membership in the National Academy of Sciences (2004), and the Latsis Prize, from the European Science Foundation (2011) for his lifetime achievements in the field of demography.
While at Duke, Vaupel was also introduced to new administrative staff providing support to population and aging research at DUPRI and BARU, Program Coordinators Laura Satterfield and Lisa Love.
Pictured with Vaupel is Laura Satterfield, Program Coordinator for DUPRI. The photograph was taken by Nathan Swanson, DUPRI Staff Assistant.