No one knows for sure how long they have left, but a visualization from Flowing Data’s (prolific and ever interesting) Nathan Yau can calculate the odds in a way that’s both terrifying and totally fascinating.
As Yau writes, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, women in the United States have an average life expectancy of 81 years and 2 months, while men have one of 76 years and 5 months. While that alone could be used as a semi-reliable predictor of your mortality, it doesn’t tell the whole story. Yau’s graphic takes data from the Social Security Administration to simulate your possible lifetimes, in a way that feels a bit like you’re watching several parallel universe timelines play out with your fate taking the form of a falling dot.
To start, users input their age and sex—as CityLab notes, “there are only 'male' and 'female' options, since that’s what the SSA has data for”—and from there, the simulation starts to run through possible outcomes, accumulating the data at the bottom in a handy chart.
Not surprisingly, the likelihood of death increases with age, and for someone around age 50, life expectancy becomes most uncertain. But something totally unexpected happens when you start running the program from someone 70 or older. Yau writes: “Life expectancy increases and the balls tend to drop farther past the overall life expectancy point. That is, as you shift into later years, life is like, ‘Hey, you’re pretty good at this aging game. Better than most. You’re probably going to live longer than the average person.’”
After letting the program run, the data seemed to suggest something I already sort of knew to be true: I’ll probably die in my 80s. Still, there’s a whole series of other possibilities—ranging from 30 to 110—that are the ones I’ll keep thinking about long after closing the browser tab.
[h/t Visual News]