James Vaupel

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James W. Vaupel
James Vaupel 01.JPG
Born(1945-05-02)May 2, 1945
DiedMarch 27, 2022(2022-03-27) (aged 76)
AwardsFellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences
Scientific career
FieldsAging research, biodemography, demography
InstitutionsMax Planck Institute for Demographic Research
Duke University
ThesisEarly death: a policy analysis of the prospects for saving lives (1977)

James W. Vaupel (May 2, 1945 – March 27, 2022) was an American scientist in the fields of aging research, biodemography, and formal demography. He was instrumental in developing and advancing the idea of the plasticity of longevity, and pioneered research on the heterogeneity of mortality risks and on the deceleration of death rates at the highest ages.[1][2][3][4][5]

Later positions[edit]

Vaupel was the founding director of the Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research in Rostock, Germany in 1996. He was also a research professor at Duke University and the director of its Population, Policy, Aging and Research Center. Vaupel was a member of the German Academy of Sciences Leopoldina, a regular scientific member of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences and fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.[6][self-published source?] He has been involved in many endeavors and published over 20 books.[7][self-published source?][8][self-published source?]


Convinced that formal demography is the source of the discipline's strength, Vaupel has contributed to the methodological foundations of demography. In 2001 he was awarded by the Population Association of America the Irene B. Taeuber Award for his lifetime research achievements.[9] In 2008 he received the Mindel C. Sheps Award for his work in mathematical demography.[10]

Vaupel has been a leading proponent of the idea of the plasticity of longevity.[11] Many people believe there is a looming limit to human life expectancy. Vaupel's research shows that life expectancy is likely to increase well beyond the purported limit of 85 years.[12] Furthermore, Vaupel and others (such as Bernard Jeune of Denmark) advanced a new proposition: that the human life span is not fixed, but is a function of life expectancy and population size.[1] He and S. Jay Olshansky have had a disagreement about what this means in terms of future projections of the human life span.[13]

Vaupel's work also focuses on the nascent field of evolutionary demography. His research activities here strive to understand age-specific mortality in terms of the evolutionary processes that shape it.[14]

Because in his studies, particular attention is paid to mortality improvements at the end of the lifespan, Vaupel has been instrumental in the emerging field of research into supercentenarians as a population subset.[15] The number of persons aged 110+ in a single European nation is rather small. Vaupel therefore began the push in 2000 by inviting experts from around the world to meet in international workshops[16] and to found the International Database on Longevity, which provides information on individuals attaining extreme ages and permits demographic analysis of mortality at the highest ages.[17]


  1. ^ a b Oeppen, J.; Vaupel, JW (2002). "DEMOGRAPHY: Enhanced: Broken Limits to Life Expectancy". Science. 296 (5570): 1029–31. doi:10.1126/science.1069675. PMID 12004104. S2CID 1132260.[non-primary source needed]
  2. ^ Vaupel, J. W.; Carey, JR; Christensen, K; Johnson, TE; Yashin, AI; Holm, NV; Iachine, IA; Kannisto, V; et al. (1998). "Biodemographic Trajectories of Longevity". Science. 280 (5365): 855–60. Bibcode:1998Sci...280..855.. doi:10.1126/science.280.5365.855. PMID 9599158.[non-primary source needed]
  3. ^ Vaupel, J. W.; Carey, JR; Christensen, K (2003). "AGING: It's Never Too Late". Science. 301 (5640): 1679–81. doi:10.1126/science.1090529. PMC 2611955. PMID 14500969.[non-primary source needed]
  4. ^ Vaupel, J. W.; Manton, K. G.; Stallard, E. (1979). "The Impact of Heterogeneity in Individual Frailty on the Dynamics of Mortality". Demography. 16 (3): 439–54. doi:10.2307/2061224. JSTOR 2061224. PMID 510638. S2CID 37092511.[non-primary source needed]
  5. ^ Herskind, Anne Maria; McGue, Matthew; Holm, Niels V.; Sørensen, Thorkild I. A.; Harvald, Bent; Vaupel, James W. (1996). "The heritability of human longevity: A population-based study of 2872 Danish twin pairs born 1870–1900". Human Genetics. 97 (3): 319–23. doi:10.1007/BF02185763. PMID 8786073. S2CID 3797699.[non-primary source needed]
  6. ^ "Prof. Dr. James W. Vaupel".
  7. ^ "Publications by year". Archived from the original on July 22, 2012.
  8. ^ "Quick Search "Vaupel"". Max Planck Society - eDoc Server.
  9. ^ "Irene B.Taeuber Awardees". Population Association of America. Archived from the original on June 3, 2008.
  10. ^ "Mindel C. Sheps Awardees". Population Association of America. Archived from the original on February 10, 2009.
  11. ^ "The Plasticity of Longevity: Interview with James Vaupel" (PDF). SAGE Crossroads. December 14, 2004. Archived from the original (PDF) on October 30, 2011. Retrieved October 5, 2011.
  12. ^ Stipp, David (July 19, 1999). "Hell No, We Won't Go! Surprising demographic trends raise a tough question: Will the elderly live so long that society can't cope?". CNN Money.
  13. ^ Wright, Karen (November 2003). "Staying Alive". Health & Medicine / Aging. Discover.
  14. ^ Vaupel, J. W. (2003). "Post-Darwinian Longevity". Population and Development Review. 29: 258–269. JSTOR 3401355.[non-primary source needed]
  15. ^ Robine, J.-M.; Vaupel, J. W. (2002). "Emergence of supercentenarians in low mortality countries" (PDF). North American Actuarial Journal. 6 (3): 54–63. doi:10.1080/10920277.2002.10596057. S2CID 129046321. Archived from the original (PDF) on June 25, 2007.
  16. ^ "Past Workshops". Archived from the original on August 19, 2007.
  17. ^ "IDL Project: Introduction". International Database on Longevity (www.supercentenarians.org).

External links[edit]