Life Expectancy and Longevity
Headline from AP today
"Life expectancy in US up"
I see headlines like this all the time and inevitably the article will then make a complete hash of the data.
In this case -
The new U.S. data is a preliminary report based on about 90 percent of the death certificates collected in 2007. It comes from the National Center for Health Statistics, part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Life expectancy is the period a child born in 2007 is expected to live, assuming mortality trends stay constant. U.S. life expectancy has grown nearly one and a half years in the past decade, and is now at an all-time-high.
So if I am reading this right- people who died and were issued a death certificate in the US in 2007 are the data base. But the analysis claims to have anything useful to say about the life expectancy of someone born in 2007.
Even one more simple level of analysis would be useful
Most of the people who died at age 78 in the US in 2007 were born in 1929. Not all of them were born in the US. Not all of them lived in the US. And some were born in 1928 - but died in 2007 before their birthday.
But according to the Centers for Disease Control in 1929 the life expectancy in the US was approx 58 years, a little longer for those who made it out of infancy. So what that means is that the kids born in 1928 who actually lived to 2007 increased the predicted expectancy dramatically.
But here's where it gets really dumb. Just to choose one, well documented example- the polio vaccine wasn't successful until 1952, just when are dat set who survived WWII were becoming young adults and getting ready to make the baby boom. There are other more significant life-saving improvements but the point is that none of them were known in 1929.
Likewise- to look at death certificates in the US in 2007 and use the data to imply that you know anything useful about the life expectancy for anyone born in the US in 2007 is a really strained analysis.