The Oldest Person in History

A total number of people who are age 100 or older in the U.S. is approximately 97,000, according to the World Economic Forum. This is the largest figure among all countries. Japan is listed as second with about 79,000 people. The U.S. figure has been forecast to reach 589,000 by 2060. That is equivalent to the entire population of the city of Milwaukee.

People who reach 100 are not old by some standards. The Gerontology Research Group tracks the longest living people in history. Over 100 people lived until they were over 114. The U.S. and Japan dominate this list, although a fair number of these people lived in Canada and the U.K.

The count of very old people has caused some skepticism. Some live in remote areas. Others do not have birth certificates. Still others may have family and friends who lie about their ages. As a matter of fact, the count of people who have lived to be over 117 ranges from six to nine.

There does not seem to be much substantial debate about the person who has lived the longest. Jeanne Calmet was born in France on February 21, 1875. She died on August 4, 1997 at the age of 122 years, 164 days. She was 40 years old at the middle of WWI, and 70 at the end of WWII. At that point she had outlived the normal lifespan of a human in developed countries.

Calmet was born in Arles, France. She first married in 1896 to Fernand Calment. He died in 1942.

Calmet’s age claim is not without detractors. The New York Times reported that “In an interview, Valery Novoselov, a geriatrician and the director of the gerontology chapter of the Moscow Society of Naturalists, announced his intention to disprove Calment’s claim to the longevity title.” One piece of his supporting evidence is that she never mentioned several major events which happened during her lifetime. This included an 1884 cholera epidemic in the area of France where she lived.

Despite challenges, Calmet tops virtually every list of humans who have lived the longest.

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