The Exponential Growth of Death

I was recently reading about supercentenarians–people that have lived to the age of 110 or above–and read the following statistic:

[Reaching] the age of 110 years [is] something achieved by only one in a thousand centenarians (based on European data). Furthermore, only 1 in 50 supercentenarians lives to be 115 (1 in 50,000 centenarians).

Fascinated by this exponential increase in death rates, I recalled reading about the Gompertz–Makeham law of mortality, and how the probability of dying doubles fairly evenly every eight years.

What do you think are the odds that you will die during the next year? Try to put a number to it — 1 in 100? 1 in 10,000? Whatever it is, it will be twice as large 8 years from now.

This startling fact was first noticed by the British actuary Benjamin Gompertz in 1825 and is now called the “Gompertz Law of human mortality.” Your probability of dying during a given year doubles every 8 years. For me, a 25-year-old American, the probability of dying during the next year is a fairly miniscule 0.03% — about 1 in 3,000. When I’m 33 it will be about 1 in 1,500, when I’m 42 it will be about 1 in 750, and so on. By the time I reach age 100 (and I do plan on it) the probability of living to 101 will only be about 50%.

via Kottke