Life sciences technology is entering a new dawn of innovation, which is certainly exciting from a longevity and quality of life perspective, but it also has the potential for a profound impact on many of the economic "doomsday" scenarios that are so popular in today's media. The promise of stem cell (especially the less politically charged IPS variety) transplantation may provide a reduced medical cost windfall in the form of:
1) Extended productivity (tax generation) from older, more highly skilled, higher earning workers that, rather than passing away and/or becoming a burden via disability/Medicare, continue a robust contribution to the economy.
2) The shortening of interim treatment periods between onset, transplantation and health restoration will likely lead to greatly reduced costs.
3) The combination of longer, more productive worker lives, and the reduced costs of treatment/cure, will likely "bend the cost curve" in a more rapid and favorable manner than most are currently expecting.
The quality of life issue is also very important from an economic perspective. Many assume that the longer people live, the more that it will cost to provide them with needed financial support and medical care and that longer lives equates to deeper, less manageable social program funding costs. This is only true if the quality of those are lives are not improved to a greater magnitude than they are extended. We are increasingly a service/information society and physical strength is declining continually in importance with respect to the ability for one to contribute to society (and who is to say that with the advances in exo-skeletons that a 90-year old could not be a loading dock worker!). As maladies that impact the elderly most severely (i.e. cognitive/neurological, muscle/bone loss, visual acuity, hearing, etc.) become more treatable, the underlying desire that most people possess (to remain productive, active, involved and valued) will be allowed to blossom.
The below link provides a quick glimpse into how far we have come and how far we may go:
Susan Lim: Transplant cells, not organs Video on TED.com