Re: virus: Sexuality and monogamy

Vicki Rosenzweig (
Thu, 12 Sep 96 10:06:00 PDT

As I understand it--and I'm by no means an expert--while the
death rate in childhood has gone way down, so has the
death rate at a lot of other ages. Diseases like smallpox,
tuberculosis, and influenza used to kill huge numbers of
adults, not just children. Large numbers of women used to
die while, or shortly after, giving birth.

In fact, one problem medicine and policy are just starting to
deal with is that we have no experience in dealing with a
significant population of people in their late 70s and older.
Gerontology is starting to talk about the "old old," to distinguish
people in their 80s and above, often with significant medical
problems, from people in their 60s and 70s who are retired
but still basically healthy. When the Social Security system
was first created, the assumption was that only a small minority
of the people who contributed (i.e., Americans old enough to
be in the paid workforce) would live long enough to collect
a pension from it.

Vicki Rosenzweig
From: owner-virus
To: virus
Subject: Re: virus: Sexuality and monogamy
Date: Wednesday, September 11, 1996 3:15PM

>I think one of the reasons for the trend away from lifelong
>monogamy is, simply, that people are living longer.

My limited understanding of epidemeology (see, I can't even spell it :-) )
is that people aren't really living any longer than they ever did, they just
aren't dying as young. In other words, when the life expectancy was 40
years, that didn't mean that 40 year olds were really old people expected to
die soon, it meant that more babies died during childbirth or from childhood
illnesses thereby lowering the AVERAGE life expectency, not the actual age
of death from "natural causes". It has only been in the past decade or two
that medical advances have actually been allowing a significant number of
people to be old at a greater age (was that even close to being clear?) and
its really only a matter of a few years change- from something like 73 to
something like 77.
This is far too recent a development to have effected things like patterns
of monogamy. I also doubt that few people have decided they won't marry at
age 25 because they are willing to spend 48 years with somebody, but
certainly not 51 years.
Now I will fall back under the influence of my lurking meme.