Life Expectancy Calculator

The following is a simple calculator to estimate how long you can live developed by Professor Lyle Ungar and Professor Dean Foster. Unlike most other life expectancy calculators, which may ask you more than 100 questions, this calculator only asks a few simple questions.

Life expectancy is calculated on the basis of statistical tables. These show the probability of persons from specific age groups, health habits, occupations, etc. of dying every year.

To put it in the most obvious way: An 80-year old man who has smoked cigarettes for 40 years, who is 200 pounds overweight, and who has never exercised is more likely to die than a 10-year old girl who is 5 pounds underweight and who studies gymnastics.

Of course, all of these life expectancy predictions are based on probability, and there is always a chance they will be wrong. But they help by giving us an idea, and sometimes they tell us things that we might not have known otherwise. For example, if you suffer from clinical depression, you have twice the probability of dying from heart disease.

The experts work into the calculations how your chances are affected by the activities you take part in, your work, your health and health habits (smoking, drinking, etc.). For activities like driving, it is fairly easy to get reliable numbers on how they affect your chance of death. The entire auto insurance industry makes sure this information is accurate. But, for other things, like exercise, it is much more difficult to get reliable data. Yet there are a number of sources that enable estimations to be made.

For example, being out of work has a terrible effect on a person, and tends to decrease that person's life expectancy. Experts say that the tremendous stress cause by losing a job and struggling to find a new one can shorten a person's life, as an important study shows (Daniel Sullivan and von Wachter, Till (2009): Job Displacement and Mortality: An Analysis Using Administrative Data. Quarterly Journal of Economics, 124 (3), 1265-1306.)

Even more surprising is the fact that married people outlive those who stay single. When you tie the knot, a 15 percent great life expectancy comes with it if you stay hitched. Married couples live 1.17 more years than their unwed counterparts. Experts say that financial support from two partners instead of just one makes a big part of the difference, but also regular sex (without angst) and less loneliness help as well. What's more, women with husband's their own age live longer than those who marry younger men. On the other hand (big surprise!) men who marry younger women have an eleven percent greater life expectancy than their coevals. All of this was found in several major studies: Paul Frijters et al. (2005): Socioeconomic status, health shocks, life satisfaction and mortality: evidence from an increasing mixed proportional hazard model.The Australian National University Centre for Economic Policy Research Discussion Paper no. 496 and Sven Drefahl (2010): How does the age gap between partners affect their survival? Demography, 47 (2), 313-326.

Another surprising fact about life expectancy: People who sleep less have a better life expectancy than those who sleep longer. You would think that good long rests in bed would lead to longer life, but it's simply not the case. Experts say that those who sleep longer are doing it for a reason – because they have too much stress, drink too much, etc. Live healthy, sleep less! Actually about five hours a night is what this study recommends: Daniel F. Kripke et al. (2002): Mortality associated with sleep duration and insomnia. Archives of General Psychiatry, 59, 131-136.

Finally, here's a very unusual fact about life expectancy: people who live in Mississippi and Louisiana, the two shortest-lived states, tend to live only 74.2 years. Experts are a total loss to account for the longer lifetimes, although we have to admit that Hawaii seems like a very nice place to live, and at least one study seems to confirm it: Frank R. Lichtenberg (2007): Why has longevity increased more in some states than others? The role of medical innovation and other factors. Manhattan Institute for Policy Research Medical Progress Report, 4.

The World Health Organization lists the countries below as having the highest life expectancies in the world in 2012 – the U.S. is number 39 on the list with the average life expectancy of 79

  1. Japan, 84
  2. Australia, 83
  3. Switzerland, 83
  4. Italy, 83
  5. Andorra, 83
  6. Singapore, 83
  7. San Marino, 83
  8. Spain, 82
  9. Luxembourg, 82
  10. Monaco, 82
  11. France, 82
  12. Norway, 82
  13. Canada, 82
  14. Cyprus, 82
  15. Israel, 82
  16. New Zealand, 82
  17. Iceland, 82
  18. Sweden, 82