How Long Will We Live?

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Jan 2, 2015

Life Expectancy

Life Expectancy is an actuarial term used for statistical purposes by governments, medical community and the insurance industry. It can be used in context of human, animal or material experience. For our purpose we will discuss the human life expectancy.

Life expectancy is the expected (in the statistical sense) number of years of life remaining at a given age. It is denoted by ex, which means the average number of subsequent years of life for someone now aged x, according to a particular mortality experience.

Most common reference to life expectancy is life expectancy at birth. This is often misinterpreted and is skewed for the average user, by the higher infant mortalities in various countries with less then optimum health care. According to the World Book, the United States life expectancy ranks 36th with a combined life expectancy (male / female) of 78.3 yrs. with Canada life expectancy, 11th with 80.7 yrs. in longevity computed from birth.

In actual fact and in reality the death rate and thus the life expectancy changes with age, up and down. In the first year a higher death rate by infant mortality creats an upward blip on the death rate. After age 1 the rate drops and remains quite low. There is also an upward blip in the late teen year until about early 30, due to the increase in accidental death rates. These are the misplaced beliefs in the invincible years. By mid to late 30s and onward the various health issues creap in to account for an annual increase in the rate of deaths.

With computerization and the resulting statistical gathering and modeling, the sophistication of actuarial life table has become quite refined to the point that rates of deaths (mortality) by disease, accident, demographics, life style habits enabled to identify the component elements or causes of these death rates in the statistics.

This process has allowed the life insurance industry to provide a wider segmentation of premium offering to its customer base based on these characteristics. Thus the industry can offer better premium rates to the super healthy with a conservative life style over health and lifestyle impaired customers.

These statistical aids cannot tell how long any individual will live, but helps the life underwriter classify a given customer into a group that demonstrates a certain health and lifestyle characteristic and then asses the mortality rate of that group. This allow the allocation of an appropriate premium to the policy.

The Life Expectancy Calculator below is just a fun way of illustrating the types of health and lifestyle issues that can impact on ones life expectancy at any given age. Don’t take it too seriously. The major factors effecting mortality over which you do have control are healthy eating, regular excersize, non smoking, stress management and moderated consumption of, well everything. On the lifestyle side, minimizing exposure to undue hazards like, base jumping, climbing mountains, hang gliding; driving on the road within the law as to speed, DUI, in safe vehicles.


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