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Author: Goofyhoofy Big funky green star, 20000 posts Top Favorite Fools Top Recommended Fools Feste Award Nominee! Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: of 58922  
Subject: Re: Perfect Woman 1912 Date: 1/7/2013 8:07 PM
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I think we should also remind ourselves that the lifespan of those living in the early 1900's was far shorter--the average life expectancy for a woman was 48.3 years in 1900 vs 80.6 years in 2008:

Just for the record, that statistic, while accurate, is also terribly misleading.

That's because it includes all ages from birth, and at the turn of the century there was a high incidence of childhood disease which killed infants and children, bringing those "overall" averages way down. (It's common argument from the anti-Social Security crowd, that expectancies have gone up so much. Except they haven't, since children never contribute in, nor take out, if they die in childhood.)

A more relevant statistic is "remaining life" at various ages, in which we find a far different story. From the early part of the century most adults' lives have been extended by about 10 years plus or minus (depending on gender, ethnicity, etc.), not 30, and much of that 10 is thanks to "last stage of life" extensions thanks to heroics of modern medicine, about which we could have another debate.

Ignoring the calculation of childhood deaths, and ignoring the estimates I have seen of "late stage heroics", the actual longevity of people has increased about five years. (And even that is subject to debates, as it includes such terrors as the mass epidemic of flu in 1918, the huge number of casualties in World Wars I and II, all of which contribute to a "shorter" life expectancy.)

Here's a chart which gives a clearer - if more complicated - picture:
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