Getting older is good news

By Aaron Schiff 02/04/2015

Well, sort of. I was poking around on the Stats NZ website and I found the period life tables. These give various death and survivorship rates for New Zealanders in different age groups.

One of the statistics given is the expected number of years of life remaining for people at different ages. If you add this to the age, you get the person’s expected age at death. Plotted against age (and smoothing the points a bit), you get this:


So, the older you get, the higher is your expected age at death. For example a 35 year old male can expect to live to 81, but if he makes it to 70 he can expect to live to 85. Similarly a 20 year old female can expect to live to 84, but if she lives to 80 she can expect to make it to 90. Actually the reality is probably a bit different because these are based on life expectancies for today’s 20 year old and 80 year old. By the time that 20 year old reaches 80, it seems likely that improvements in medical technology will increase her life expectancy beyond 90.

So living longer is good news in the sense that you are not already dead and this increases your chance of living a bit longer. Also interesting is that the male curve is steeper than the female one, ie making it to an advanced age is even more good news if you are male than if you are female.

Editor’s note: we continue to work through Aaron’s excellent back-catalogue of posts.