No reason to worry yourself to death over downturn in USA life expectancy


National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) researchers announced this week that life expectancy for a baby born in 2016 fell 0.1 percent to 78.6 years.  First off, this reduction is so miniscule that it cannot be significant.  It definitely is of no importance per se.  I do, however, concur with those who cite this statistic as a call for alarm by it being driven down by the epidemic of opioid deaths.

The trick to interpreting statistics on life expectancy is to keep in mind it has a mathematical value that changes as an individual gets older.  For example, men like me at age 65 can expect to live to age 84, primarily because we made it through high-mortality childhood and the perils of being a young adult.  Look up your expectancy at this Life Table from the Social Security Administration’s (SSA) Office of the Chief Actuary and give yourself a year or two extra by it being a bit dated (me being optimistic in the continuing advancement of medical care).

If you want to be more precise than the SSA tables, check out the calculators posted here.  One to avoid is the “How Long Have You Got?” calculator, which comes with the caveat that “each time we’ve tested this calculator we are expected to pass away on the same day”.  On the other hand, I think you will like the results from the Easy Surf life-expectancy calculator*.

“It is not death that a man should fear, but he should fear never beginning to live.”

– Marcus Aurelius

* Evidently by the domain “.cc” this comes from someone living in Australia’s Cocos Keeling Islands—a paradise on earth where one might live long and happy as you can see here .

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