“Life Expectancy of Americans Hits 78”

except… it didn’t.

from the AP article (fourth paragraph):

U.S. life expectancy at birth inched up to 77.9 from the previous record, 77.8, recorded for 2004. The increase was more dramatic in contrast with 1995, when life expectancy was 75.8, and 1955, when it was 69.6.

I know I’m sweating the details here, but 77.9 is not 78!  I mean, it’s just not.  and it’s not like the writer can claim he was rounding the number up — rounding would make last years number (77.8) 78 as well.

I’m also not sure where he sees the ‘drama’ in the increase — 0.1 increase in one year could reasonably extrapolate to 1.0 increase in ten years, but his 1995-2005 numbers clearly show an increase of 2.1 over the past ten years — average of 0.2 per year, right?  so if the increase was only 0.1 last year, the rate is actually slowing down!

run for the hills. “LIFE EXPECTANCY GAINS SLOWING!!!”

my other question from all this is: do these life expectancy numbers help ME?  they always state “life expectancy at birth”, but how can they lock in your life expectancy when you’re born?  when I was born, we didn’t have Plavix, Lipitor, Zocor (etc), and surely they could help contribute to extending my life, right?  and the things that will be developed during baby J’s lifetime — deeper understanding of our biology and discovery of drugs, genetic treatments, nanotech, human/computer interaction — it boggles the mind.

for the record (and for better or for worse), I fully expect to live to see 120.  and I expect baby J, born last year, will live to see the year 2200.

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3 Comments

Filed under aging, I believe the children are our future

3 responses to ““Life Expectancy of Americans Hits 78”

  1. I think that increase of .1 is a part of the 2.1 increase over all. These numbers are from 2005, right?
    Either way, you are so right about the 77.9 vs 78 thing. I wonder if headline writer even read the article? I am guessing not.

  2. I forgot — of course there would be a separate “headline writer”, and of course it would be too much to expect him/her to read the article… Adam Smith and division of labor and all that. can’t expect someone who knows the difference between 77.8, 77.9, and 78.0 to be able to write a punchy headline. duh. my bad.

  3. I have seen some headlines that were completely contrary to the article or essay. (Mostly in the Daily Times, though) I wonder if the AP articles come across the wire sans headline and the publishers write there own. It is probably the job of some poor slob fresh out of journalism school- something to earn those peanuts, you know.

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