Age Acceleration and the Life Course

Project Details


Populations around the world are currently ageing rapidly, which transformation will put considerable pressure onpublic finances. The evolution of ageing-related costs, mostly driven by long-term care and health-care spending,will vary widely among Member States, with Luxembourg being the country expected to witness the largest rise.From a public-finance perspective, promoting good health among the older would significantly reduce the pressureon public budgets. From a biological perspective, the process of becoming older reflects the accumulation of a widevariety of molecular and cellular damage over time. Socio-economic environments and individual characteristicsplay an important role in this process at every stage of life, starting as early as conception. Life circumstancesinteract with biological processes in a complex way, and socio-economic factors ‘get under the skin’, affectingpeople’s health while ageing. As a result, the comprehensive study of ageing requires expertise from a number ofdifferent disciplines.We here propose an interdisciplinary approach to analyze the effects of socio-economic factors in the ageingprocess, where economics, sociology and health psychology meet biology and epigenetics. We focus on the mostaccurate age biomarker, the epigenetic clock, based on a key concept in epigenetics, DNA methylation, and howthis methylation changes with age. Epigenetic modifications are reversible, hence their use in the study of ageing isvery promising as they potentially allow for the identification and validation of anti-ageing interventions.We will contribute to the analysis of the epigenetic clock from the perspective of social scientists by taking fullaccount of its associations with socio-demographic and economic factors, and the nuances and complexities of themeasurement of individual socio-economic status. We will address a series of different questions in relation toindividual ageing: 1) the in-utero transmission from the individual’s mother; 2) the effects of individual life eventsand statuses prior to the measurement of the epigenetic clock; and 3) the evaluation of changes over time in theepigenetic clock within the same individual and the association between levels and changes in the clock betweenmother and child.
Effective start/end date1/09/2030/09/24


  • FNR - Fonds National de la Recherche: €654,000.00


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