Tuesday, May 03, 2016

The Projected Improvement in Life Expectancy

by Bill McBride on 5/03/2016 12:07:00 PM

Note: This is an update to a post I wrote some time ago with more recent data and projections.

Here is something different, but it is important when looking at demographics ...

The following data is from the CDC United States Life Tables, 2010 by Elizabeth Arias.

The most frequently used life table statistic is life expectancy (ex), which is the average number of years of life remaining for persons who have attained a given age (x). ... Life expectancy at birth (e0) for 2010 for the total population was 78.7 years. ... Another way of assessing the longevity of the period life table cohort is by determining the proportion that survives to specified ages. ... To illustrate, 57,188 persons out of the original 2010 hypothetical life table cohort of 100,000 (or 57.2 %) were alive at exact age 80.
emphasis added
Instead of look at life expectancy, here is a graph of survivors out of 100,000 born alive, by age for three groups: those born in 1900-1902, born in 1949-1951 (baby boomers), and born in 2010.

Survivors Click on graph for larger image.

There was a dramatic change between those born in 1900 (blue) and those born mid-century (orange). The risk of infant and early childhood deaths dropped sharply, and the risk of death in the prime working years also declined significantly.

The CDC is projecting further improvement for childhood and prime working age for those born in 2010, but they are also projecting that people will live longer.

Death by AgeThe second graph uses the same data but looks at the number of people who die before a certain age, but after the previous age. As an example, for those born in 1900 (blue), 12,448 of the 100,000 born alive died before age 1, and another 5,748 died between age 1 and age 5.  That is 18.2% of those born in 1900 died before age 5.

In 1950, only 3.5% died before age 5.  In 2010, it was 0.7%.

The peak age for deaths didn't change much for those born in 1900 and 1950 (between 76 and 80, but many more people born in 1950 will make it).

Now the CDC is projection the peak age for deaths - for those born in 2010 - will increase to 86 to 90!

Also the number of deaths for those younger than 20 will be very small (down to mostly accidents, guns, and drugs).  Self-driving cars might reduce the accident components of young deaths.

In 1900, 25,2% died before age 20.  And another 26.8% died before 55.

In 1950, 5.3% died before age 20.  And another 18.7% died before 55.  A dramatic decline in early deaths.

In 2010, 1.5% are projected to die before age 20.  And only 9.7% before 55.  A dramatic decline in prime working age deaths.

An amazing statistic: for those born in 1900, about 13 out of 100,000 made it to 100.  For those born in 1950, 199 are projected to make to 100 - an significant increase.   Now the CDC is projecting that 1,968 out of 100,000 born in 2010 will make it to 100.  Stunning!

Some people look at this data and worry about supporting all the old people.  To me, this is all great news - the vast majority of people can look forward to a long life - with fewer people dying in childhood or during their prime working years.  Awesome!