Every Eight Years, Your Chances of Dying Double

So get busy living.

The trouble with New Years Resolutions is that, about halfway through January, we often find that the urgency is beginning to fade, that the wind’s already been puffed out of our sails. I talked about why I set goals rather than resolve against any previous behavior here. And here’s yet another way of staying focused on what you want to get accomplished – the ticking of the clock. It’s not quite linear, the beat between each tick is actually quickening, with cold, undeniable regularity it turns out.

Robert Krulwich revisits the mysterious but true Gompertz Law of Human Mortality, named for the British actuary who had originally discovered this mathematical fact back in 1825.

via NPR:

Obviously, when you’re young (and past the extra-risky years of early childhood), the chances of dying in the coming year are minuscule — roughly 1 in 3,000 for 25-year-olds. (This is a group average, of course.)

But eight years later, the tables said, the odds will roughly double.  “When I’m 33 [the chances of my dying that year] will be about 1 in 1,500.”

And eight years after that…the odds double again: “It will be about 1 in 750.”

And eight years later, there’s another doubling. Looking down the chart, you’ll see that keeps happening and happening and happening. “Your probability of dying during a given year doubles every eight years.”

A helpful, if horrifying, chart:

death chart

Josh here – eight years from today, your chances of dying will be double what they are now.

Armed with this knowledge, what do you plan to do about it? Today, right now?


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