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Monday, November 09, 2020

The Projected Improvement in Life Expectancy

by Calculated Risk on 11/09/2020 11:07:00 AM

As we celebrate the awesome vaccine news, Pfizer’s Early Data Shows Vaccine Is More Than 90% Effective, here is the most recent life expectancy data from the CDC. This is well prior to the pandemic, but it is still interesting and is important when looking at demographics ...

The following data is from the CDC United States Life Tables, 2017 by Elizabeth Arias, Ph.D., and Jiaquan Xu, M.D.

In 2017, the overall expectation of life at birth was 78.6 years, decreasing from 78.7 in 2016. Between 2016 and 2017, life expectancy at birth decreased by 0.1 year for males (76.2 to 76.1) and did not change for females (81.1). Life expectancy at birth decreased by 0.1 year for the white population (78.9 to 78.8) and the non-Hispanic white population (78.6 to 78.5) between 2016 and 2017. Life expectancy at birth did not change from 2016 for the black population (75.3), the non-Hispanic black population (74.9), and the Hispanic population (81.8).
[The following] summarizes the number of survivors by age, race, Hispanic origin, and sex. To illustrate, 57,839 persons out of the original 2017 hypothetical life table cohort of 100,000 (or 57.8%) were alive at exact age 80. In other words, the probability that a person will survive from birth to age 80, given 2017 age-specific mortality rates, is 57.8%. ... In 2017, 99.4% of all infants born in the United States survived the first year of life. In contrast, only 87.6% of infants born in 1900 survived the first year. Of the 2017 period life table cohort, 57.8% survived to age 80 and 1.9% survived to age 100. In 1900, 13.5% of the life table cohort survived to age 80 and only 0.03% survived to age 100
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 2017.

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 2017, 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.

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 2017 - will increase to 86 to 90!  Using these stats - for those born this year (in 2020) - almost 60% will make it to the next century.

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.

An amazing statistic: for those born in 1900, about 31 out of 100,000 made it to 100.  For those born in 1950, 199 are projected to make to 100 - a significant increase.   Now the CDC is projecting that 1,894 out of 100,000 born in 2017 will make it to 100.  Stunning!

Some people look at this data and worry about supporting all these 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.