Sunday, January 4, 2015

Answer to: How Long Will You Live?

     I consulted several how-long-will-you-live websites to compile this quiz, along with various government statistics. So everyone starts with the number 84, which according to Social Security actuarial tables represents the overall average life expectancy of Americans in their mid-60s. Then, to figure out your own individual life expectancy, add and subtract according to the following schedule.

      1. If you're in your 50s, subtract 2 years. In your 60s, no change. In your 70s, add 3 years; in your 80s, add 7 years. (If you're younger than 50, you shouldn't be reading this blog; and if you're in your 90s, you're way beyond a quiz like this!)
     2. If you're a white male, subtract one year. White female, add two years. Non-white male, subtract 4 years. Non-white female, subtract one year. (Figures are from the CDC).

     3. Never married: subtract one year. Currently married: add one year. Divorced or widowed, no change

     4. If you answered A) add one year. If you answered D) subtract one year. If you answered B), then it's hard to generalize, but cancer survival rates are improving all the time. On average, subtract 3 years.

     5. If you answered A) add one year. If you answered D) subtract one year. If you answered B) then again, it's hard to generalize, but treatments are continually getting more effective. So on average, subtract 2 years.

     6. Add one year if you tend to drive in the right-hand lane, and another year if you answered always wear your seat belt. Subtract one year if you drive in the left-hand lane (in other words, if you are prone to speeding) and subtract another year for answering C), or over 15,000 miles a year.

     7. Add 2 years if you never smoked; add one if you gave up more than 10 years ago. Subtract one year if you smoke occasionally (one pack of cigarettes a month, or one cigar a week = "occasionally"); subtract 2 years if you smoke half a pack or more a day.

     8. Add one year if you checked no items. Subtract one year if you checked 2 or 3 items; subtract 2 years if you checked all 4 items.

     9. Add one year if you checked both B) and C); subtract one year if you checked both A) and D). Otherwise, no change.

     10. Add two years if you checked A) for regular exercise. Subtract one year if you answered D) for never.

     11.  Subtract one year if you checked A) and have no college experience. Add one year if you checked C) or D) -- there's a benefit to graduating from college but no appreciable actuarial benefit to more education.

     12.  Subtract one year if you answered A). (You're too gullible.) Subtract one year if you answered D). (You're too cynical). Add one year if you answered C) -- because no matter what our age we can always improve our prospects for a long and healthy life.

     The final number you end up with is an estimate of how long you can expect to live. But as you might imagine, this is a fairly short-handed quiz, and it's more a suggestion than a prediction. If you want something more comprehensive and therefore more accurate, I'd recommend the long-form calculator from the University of Pennsylvania.

     P. S. According to this quiz, I'll live until age 89, and B will live to 96. Which seems about right to me. Good luck ... and good health in the New Year!


DJan said...

Looks like I'll make it to 91, according to this. I enjoyed it, no matter how long I actually live. Quality is more important than quantity, anyway. :-)

gigi-hawaii said...

I agree with DJan. Quality not quantity.

Olga Hebert said...

Good grief, that is a whole lot of math. I will just wait to find out.

DDD said...

I am the gullible one. I kept on adding until question 12/gullible me.

Anonymous said...

my mother died young my grandmother on my mom's side til about 100 my aunt on my mom's side is still going strong a 97 and she looks like she will get to be 100 easily! My mom succumbed to cancer in the early 60's without any money or health options she died quickly and painfully...I don't worry about it much, it is what it is, I try to live a good healthy life but I am only human..God lets us live as long as he wants us to no matter what it is the QUALITY OF OUR LIVES AND WHAT WE CAN DO TO HELP AND LOVE OTHERS NOT THE GREEDY WAY..JUST SAYING....hmmmm!

Tom Sightings said...

I find that the older I get, the more I'm interested in quantity. But I agree, quality is just as important, if not more so. The thing is (and we all know this) the number of years and the quality of those years are closely correlated. So if we eat right and get regular exercise, and do all the other good things, then we're much more likely to be healthy and have a more positive outlook on life. Personally, I do pretty well on most counts; but my resolution for the new year: Get more exercise!

Stephen Hayes said...

This reminds me of when our son found a website that asked a dozen questions and then predicted how long you'd live. Evidently, I'm already dead.

Linda Myers said...

I've slacked on exercise for the last two months for a variety of reasons. Tomorrow starts high season where we live in the winter, and I'll be exercising every day.

I'd rather live as long as I'm healthy of mind and body, then pass away quietly in my sleep. Number of years is not so critical to me.

Janette said...

90 . That is plenty :)
Thanks! That was interesting.

CrazyUncle said...

Did you leave some of the questions off (like #4, #5, and others)? Or maybe I need to subtract a bunch of years because I could not decipher all your questions?

Anonymous said...

I don't know how long I will live. A bus could hit me or something totally unexpected could occur, but given my genes I'm look at my 90s nd maybe longer.

Anonymous said...

Something wrong with this puzzle.

Either I am blind, or you left out (A) which I assume is a white female?

The interesting thing about life tables is
1/ they generalize
2/ they are based on historic information.
3/ The older you get, the older you get, which is why you find some centenarians are people of color.

My prof (Jacob Siegel) who produced the U.S. population forecasts for the Census Bureau in 1940 (used by government planners), told us that the rates were perfect, they just missed the Baby Boom. later forecasts missed the increase in life expectancy too. These are the main reasons Medicare is in trouble.

Conrad Taeuber told us that if we eliminated all cancers it would not extend the life span by very much.

Life expectancy is the calculation of LE at birth.

Given that infant mortality and infectious diseases, the cause of the gain in LE over the past few decades are "mostly" under control, LE can't increase much more.

Hauola said...

As this is the year I officially qualify for my Medicare membership I was anxious to find out what my numbers might be! Interestingly inspirational and with giant doses of honesty, sprinkled with knowledge, I added up to a 90 and a 91.81 on the University of Pennsylvania longer format quiz. During the quiz questions and in tallying up my numbers I had the words "movement, positive and quality" running through my head. Recently read The Art of Aging by the late Sherwin Nuland. Dr. Nuland put much emphasis on movement to gain quality, and quantity, in our aging process. Thank you Tom for bringing an important topic to the forefront.

Gabbygeezer said...

These calculations are lots of fun. It's nice to get a positive vibe from an outcome showing another decade or so of existence. I conclude I'll live until I die.

Alexandra Rivers said...

There's a lot of math here! But It says that Im going to live until 84! Haha! Need to live a healthier than ever lifestyle to improve my stat!.
Or on the other hand, I might need and prepare for long term care if I'm going to live that long. Retirement years are loong! T_T


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