Food for Thought


Time is nature's way
of keeping everything
from happening at once.

--- John Archibald Wheeler


Human Life Expectancy

As time has evolved, so too has man's life expectancy. At 2000 BC, the average human life expectancy at birth was only about 18 years. As of 2009, the CIA World Factbook shows the average life expectancy of humans worldwide at birth is 66.67 years (64.5 years for males and 68.8 years for females).

As might be expected, current life expectancy in 3rd world countries is lower due to higher infant mortality rates, poorer nutrition, less available health care and poorer general living conditions. Swaziland currently has to world's lowest life expectancy at 31.9 years. In 1st world countries, life expectancy is higher with Japan having the highest at 82.1 years (78.8 for males and 85.6 for females).

The United States current life expectancy at birth is 78.1 (75.65 for males and 80.7 for females). Amazingly, the US is ranked 50th out of world's 223 nations and 34th out of the 191 countries in the United Nations. Much of the reason the US is not ranked higher is due to the percentage of the population that lives in poverty and those without access to good health  care.

Life Expectancy Improves as We Age

By the time an infant reaches their 1st birthday, their chances of living longer increase. If an individual lives to late adulthood, the probability of surviving to a very old age is quite good. For example, even though the average life expectancy for US humans at birth is 78.1 years, those who live to age 65 have an average life expectancy of almost 85 years (7 years longer than someone at birth).

Though we could get into statistical mortality tables, bell shaped curves and the like, there is a more simple way to look at it. No matter what our age, we have already beaten the odds of dying at a younger age and therefore, we have a probability of living longer than the statistical average. Just the fact that we did not die at birth considerably improves our odds for a longer life span.

The Clock is Always Ticking

On the other hand, from the moment we take in our first breath at birth, we are one breath closer to our last exhalation at death. At age 11, the probability of our dying prior to age 12 is about 1 in 6,000. At age 100, the probability of our dying prior to age 101 is about 1 in 3.

All things considered, we need to be as consciously aware as we can be in each and every moment, with each and every breath, for the number of breathes we have this lifetime are finite.