James Vaupel 01
James Walton Vaupel (born 2 May 1945) is an American scientist in the fields of aging research, biodemography, and formal demography. He has been 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]

Current positions

Vaupel is the founding director of the Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research in Rostock, Germany (since 1996). He is also a research professor at Duke University and the director of its Population, Policy, Aging and Research Center. Vaupel is 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] He has been involved in many endeavors and published over 20 books.[7][8]


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 lifespan]] 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. 1.0 1.1 Oeppen, J.; Vaupel, JW (2002). "DEMOGRAPHY: Enhanced: Broken Limits to Life Expectancy". Science. 296 (5570): 1029–31. PMID 12004104. doi:10.1126/science.1069675. Script error
  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. PMID 9599158. doi:10.1126/science.280.5365.855. Script error
  3. Vaupel, J. W.; Carey, JR; Christensen, K (2003). "AGING: It's Never Too Late". Science. 301 (5640): 1679–81. PMC 2611955Freely accessible. PMID 14500969. doi:10.1126/science.1090529. Script error
  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. PMID 510638. doi:10.2307/2061224. Script error
  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. PMID 8786073. doi:10.1007/BF02185763. Script error
  6. "Prof. Dr. James W. Vaupel". Template:Self-published inline
  7. "Publications by year". Template:Self-published inline
  8. "Quick Search "Vaupel"". Max Planck Society - eDoc Server. Template:Self-published inline
  9. "Irene B.Taeuber Awardees". Population Association of America. 
  10. "Mindel C. Sheps Awardees". Population Association of America. 
  11. Template:Cite document
  12. Stipp, David (19 July 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. Template:Cite magazine
  14. Vaupel, J. W. (2003). "Post-Darwinian Longevity". Population and Development Review. 29: 258–269. JSTOR 3401355. Script error
  15. Robine, J.-M.; Vaupel, J. W. (2002). "Emergence of supercentenarians in low mortality countries" (PDF). North American Actuarial Journal. 6: 54–63. doi:10.1080/10920277.2002.10596057. 
  16. "Past Workshops". Archived from the original on August 19, 2007. 
  17. "IDL Project: Introduction". International Database on Longevity ( 
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