Robert Douglas Young (born May 2, 1974 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida) is a gerontology consultant and researcher best known for validating supercentenarian cases and debunking longevity claims. He is the current Senior Consultant for Gerontology for Guinness World Records (since 2005) and the co-Director for the Gerontology Research Group (since 2015). Young has worked on several books, including Guinness World Records editions 2020, 2019, 2018, 2017, 2016, 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009, 2008, 2007, 2005 and 1997, World Almanac 2004, The Wisdom of the World's Oldest People (2005), by Jerry Friedman (whose photographic exhibits of supercentenarians were presented at the United Nations in July 2006), and Living in Three Centuries (2006), by Mark Story.
Young graduated summa cum laude from Georgia State University in 2006, with a Bachelor of History degree and an Undergraduate Certificate in Gerontology. In August 2008, Young obtained a Master of Arts in Gerontology degree from Georgia State University. Young obtained a second Masters in History at GSU in 2011, with a concentration in World History endorsement. Young's interdisciplinary approach, combining gerontology and history, led to such works as the history of extreme longevity tracking, the history of longevity mythology, and the like.
Robert has, since 1999, maintained lists of the world's oldest people for the Gerontology Research Group (becoming the main person in charge of the data since May 2002), and has also worked with the Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, the New England Centenarian Study and the Social Security Administration to establish global databases on the world's oldest people. Jean-Marie Robine of France, validator of the Jeanne Calment case, worked with INSERM to establish the International Database on Longevity in 2005. Young is now a listed contributor as of 2010.
Robert's Masters thesis, titled "African-American Longevity Advantage: Myth or Reality? A Racial Comparison of Supercentenarian Data" won the 2008 ESPO award from the Gerontology Society of America for the best interdiscplinary graduate paper in gerontology in 2008 on November 22. This was the only national-level graduate paper awarded in 2008. The thesis answers a century-old question among demographers: is the cross-over effect (i.e., the statistical tendency of African-Americans to have a higher life expectancy after age 80 than their Caucasian-American counterparts) among the African-American population real, or simply due to age misreporting?
Work with Other Colleagues in the Field
Robert Young has been at the forefront of extreme longevity tracking as an organizational discipline. His Master's thesis also included a chapter on the history of age validation, beginning especially with William Thoms in the 1870s and continuing with Thomas Emley Young in the 1890s, Alexander Graham Bell in the 1910s, Walter Bowerman in the 1930s, and the like. Robert Young has worked many of the most important persons in the field, including:
Dr. L. Stephen Coles (1941-2014), the founder of the Gerontology Research Group (1990)
Dr.James Vaupel (1945- ), the founder of the Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research (1996)
Dr. Jean-Marie Robine (1960- ), the founder of the International Database on Longevity (2002)
Dr. Tom Perls (1960- ), the founder of the New England Centenarian Study
Dr. Kestenbaum, Renee Ferguson, and Leslie Stone of the Social Security Administration Supercentenarian Study
Dr. A. Ross Eckler, Jr. (1927-2016) (Guinness gerontology consultant, 1974-c1991)
Robert Douglas Young currently holds the following leadership or advisory/administrative positions:
Guinness World Records: Senior Consultant for Gerontology (from 2005)
Gerontology Research Group: Director, Supercentenarian Research and Database Division (from 2015)
Young has provided a list of credits for each individual case; some are shared. They can be found on the GRG website.
The number of cases he debunked is over 100, and here are a few of the most significant ones:
- William Coates, February 2004 (claimed 114; actually 92).
- James Henry Brett, Jr., July 2006 (claimed 111, actually 96).
- Toby Crosby March 8, 2007 (claimed 122; actually 96).
- Mary Ramsey Wood July 29, 2007 (claimed 120; more probably 97).
- Noah Raby August 14, 2007 (claimed 131; more probably 81).
- Micajah Weiss October 7, 2007 (claimed 114; more likely 99).
- "www.demogr.mpg.de/calendar/files/23312.3112487793-Workshop%20Program.pdf" (PDF). http://www.demogr.mpg.de/calendar/files/23312.3112487793-Workshop%20Program.pdf.
- "www.supercentenarians.org". http://www.supercentenarians.org/project_contributors.htm.
- "www.supercentenarian-research-foundation.org/organization.htm". http://www.supercentenarian-research-foundation.org/organization.htm.
- VERIFIED SUPERCENTENARIAN CASES -- as of May 26, 2006
- "Gerontology Research Group" http://www.grg.org/
- "Guinness World Records" http://www.guinnessworldrecords.com/
- "Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research" http://www.demogr.mpg.de/
- "New England Centenarian Study" http://www.bumc.bu.edu/Dept/Home.aspx?DepartmentID=361
- "New England Supercentenarian Study" http://www.bumc.bu.edu/Dept/Home.aspx?DepartmentID=505
- "International Database on Longevity" http://www.supercentenarians.org/
- "Earth's Elders Foundation" http://www.earthselders.org/
- "World's Oldest People" http://health.groups.yahoo.com/group/Worlds_Oldest_People/