Skip to main content
Intellect

Federal health research investment would transform aging workforce

Duke–BYU study sees path to boosting economy, sustaining Medicare

A new report recommends tripling the federal government’s funding of health research to extend the productivity of an aging workforce.

The study found that the gains from a greater investment in biotechnology and medicine will offset the rising costs of programs like Medicare that must expand to meet the needs of baby boomers in their later years. Brigham Young University statistician Dennis Tolley crunched the numbers for the report published Tuesday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Tolley’s collaborators on the study include researchers at Duke University and the National Council of Spinal Cord Injury Association.

“Many people feel that the rapid increase in technology is one of the main reasons health care costs have increased,” Tolley said. “Although none of us would like to return to the level of medicine practiced even 20 years ago, we are frustrated with the high cost of health care. This research shows that medical technology is also increasing the wealth of the nation.”

The baby boomer generation is driving up the average age in the U.S., but the workforce is aging at an even faster rate as young people enter the workforce later in life. To maintain growth in a more competitive global economy, U.S. workers will need to remain productive well beyond the age of 65.

“One of the key deterrents to working past retirement age has been the health of the individual,” Tolley said. “Technological advances are reducing this problem. As a result, seasoned, skilled, and technical individuals can now remain in the work force longer, producing great wealth for their immediate families and for society in general.”

Tolley, who is an actuary, fed economic and demographic data from prior national surveys and studies into a mathematical model to predict the state of the future U.S. economy. They found that the optimal level of research investment is 12.8 percent of gross domestic product, equal to $1.6 trillion yearly. Current funding for organizations such as the National Institutes of Health is about one-third of the optimum.

According to the authors, additional investments in research would yield discoveries that increase both life expectancy and the length of time workers remain active. The resulting economic boost would generate new tax revenue and savings in rate of increase in Medicare payments that will more than cover a doubling of the biomedical research at the National Institutes of Health and the National Science Foundation from 2009 to 2014.

tolley2.jpg

Related Articles
data-content-type="article"
July 28, 2021
A team of BYU biologists has been tracking dragonflies around the world, from Vietnam to the islands of Vanuatu. Their goal is to piece together the first-ever phylogenic tree of all 6,300 known species and their ancestors.
overrideBackgroundColorOrImage= overrideTextColor= overrideTextAlignment= overrideCardHideSection=false overrideCardHideByline=false overrideCardHideDescription=false overridebuttonBgColor= overrideButtonText= overrideTextAlignment=
data-content-type="article"
July 27, 2021
Amy Jensen, associate dean of the College of Fine Arts and Communications, delivered Tuesday’s forum address. She spoke on why our bodies matter in today’s digital world. More specifically, she explained that being more intentional about how we use and where we place our bodies can help us grow and cultivate a deeper understanding of others.
overrideBackgroundColorOrImage= overrideTextColor= overrideTextAlignment= overrideCardHideSection=false overrideCardHideByline=false overrideCardHideDescription=false overridebuttonBgColor= overrideButtonText= overrideTextAlignment=
data-content-type="article"
July 25, 2021
New research finds that children who engaged with princess culture were more likely to hold progressive views about women and subscribe less to attitudes of toxic masculinity.
overrideBackgroundColorOrImage= overrideTextColor= overrideTextAlignment= overrideCardHideSection=false overrideCardHideByline=false overrideCardHideDescription=false overridebuttonBgColor= overrideButtonText= overrideTextAlignment=
overrideBackgroundColorOrImage= overrideTextColor= overrideTextAlignment= overrideCardHideSection=false overrideCardHideByline=false overrideCardHideDescription=false overridebuttonBgColor= overrideButtonText=