Our built-in expiration date

From the Gravity and Levity blog, a nice lesson in statistics, fitting data to density functions, and the probability of living and dying:

Your body wasn’t built to last: a lesson from human mortality rates

What do you think are the odds that you will die during the next year?  Try to put a number to it — 1 in 100?  1 in 10,000?  Whatever it is, it will be twice as large 8 years from now.

This startling fact was first noticed by the British actuary Benjamin Gompertz in 1825 and is now called the “Gompertz Law of human mortality.”  Your probability of dying during a given year doubles every 8 years.  For me, a 25-year-old American, the probability of dying during the next year is 0.03% — about 1 in 3,000.  When I’m 42 it will be about 1 in 750, and so on.  By the time I reach age 100 the probability of living to 101 will only be about 0.5%.  This is seriously fast growth — my mortality rate is increasing exponentially with age.

And if my mortality rate (the probability of dying during the next year) is rising exponentially, that means that the probability of me surviving to a particular age is falling super-exponentially.

Read the whole thing here (including nice graphs!). And here is a beautiful death probability calculator :-).

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