Extreme Longevity in the Past: Validation of Centenarians Who Died before WWI

Michel Poulain, Tallinn University and Université Catholique de Louvain
Dany Chambre, Independent Researcher
Anne Herm, Tallinn University
Gianni Pes, Università degli Studi di Sassari

The validation of the ages of alleged centenarians is essential for scientific research in demography, genetics, epidemiology, and medicine. Age inaccuracy was often observed in past populations, and is still commonly observed today in populations without efficient civil registration. Most of alleged centenarians born before the XIX century cannot be validated and moreover JEUNE concluded that no centenarian died before 1800. In this contribution we reconsider the point with a scrupulous investigation of all alleged centenarians in Belgium and we extended the period to include all those who died before WWI. We also consider Sardinian centenarians from the same period. Based on 400 validated centenarians we characterise the survival above 100 years of age of these early centenarians. Our contribution will demonstrate that there were numerous centenarians born in the XVIII century and that their survival above 100 years was similar to the one of centenarians today.

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Presented in Session 68: Longevity: Past, Present, and Future