This topic is going to be offensive to some people. It presents life from a Darwinist view and portrays life as an investment and the living as resources, as opposed to the laughing and loving souls that we can be. This post will remove the romantic, the religious, and the superstitious notions about life and add in the bio-economy of politics, economics, and sociology.
Many of us are familiar with the phrase “living on borrowed time.” If you were to live on borrowed time, who would you borrow it from? My real question is who are the people who actually LIVE ON BORROWED TIME, borrowing it from?
First, let me explain what I mean by living on borrowed time. Biological and actuarial science comes up with life expectancies. The life expectancies take into account the average life-span of your parents’ generation, the expected life-span of your generation, major life events (wars, plagues, and locusts), your genetic health history, your ethnic/racial health norms, and a whole lot of other factors to come up with a life expectancy.
The current life expectancy for babies born in the past year is 78.11 years. I put that last section in bold for a reason. That life expectancy figure isn’t the life expectancy for the rest of us. We had different health conditions, different social conditions, different environmental conditions, and different life expectancies. To prove it, my general life expectancy (based on my country of origin, year of birth, and race) is 63.7 years. The life expectancy of males of all races was 69.6 years and for both genders, all races was 73.5 years. I personally think that since I’ve lived through the times of gang wars, uncontrolled AIDS, Cold War, Persian Gulf Wars I and II, and O.J. Simpson that I’ll last longer than my life expectancy, but we’ll see.
(If you wish to verify my information, it came from the Center for Disease Control – National Vital Statistics Report: Volume 56, Number 9. It’s the most current I could find through their website)
My life expectancy is just under 14.5 years less than the all babies born this year. Say what you will, but 14.5 years is a long time, particularly when you factor that it’s 14.5 years added to the end of life. That being said, if I take steps to improve my overall health, reduce the likelihood of contracting diseases that I’m genetically predisposed to, and reduce the negative health impacting habits that I currently have…it’s not out of the question for me to live until I’m 78 years old. The difference is that by living that life I would be LIVING ON BORROWED TIME…14.3 years of borrowed time, to be exact.
Allow me to explain what I mean by that because it’s not as simple as saying I’ve lived past my life expectancy. To live that long means that provisions must be made, both by me and by the greater society/government for me to continue existing that long (lodging, food, transportation, healthcare, and finances). As new generations and new life expectancies come, the world adjusts itself to accommodate for how long people will live.
According to the Social Security Administration (SSA) and the American Association for Retired Persons (AARP), the current established retirement age is 65 years old. According to the SSA, I won’t be fully vested for retirement until I’m 67 years old. I don’t relish 36 more years of working but c’est la vie. Ok, so we know how old qualifies for retirement but what was the life expectancy of those who are currently at or approaching retirement age? Well for those who were born 65 years ago (1944), the average life expectancy across all races and genders was…65.2 years*. There was an expectation that the average person born in 1944 would either be dead or soon to die around this time. Do you believe that to be the case? Me neither.
* There is a variation in that figure of 65.2 years (from 68.4 years for White Women to 55.8 years for Black Men). For a number of reasons that I will not go into here, these two ethnic-gender classes consistently represent the high and low of life expectancy ranges for all ethnic-gender classes, across all known years in the United States.
In fact, the survivorship rates (% of people alive per 100,000 people born) of people born in 1944 is 83%. That means while the “experts” believed the survivorship rate to be around 50% now with a rapid decline, they WAY underestimated things. Nearly 7 out of every 8 people born in 1944 are still alive and kicking. Oh, and they’re not likely to pass on too soon.
Take a look at the life expectancy (LE) vs. survivorship (S) figures for people aged 70 (63.7 years LE, 76.2% S). That means that 76.2% of people born in 1939 are living on 6.3 years borrowed time and still counting. Take a look at 75 (61.1 years LE, 66.6% S) and 80 (57.1 years LE, 53.9% S). By those figures it means that 2/3 of 75 year olds are living on 13.9 years of borrowed time and just over half of 80 year olds are living on 22.9 years of borrowed time.
Now why is that? There are a number of things that account for the growing survivorship rates that we’re seeing…better health quality of food/drink, better quality of environment, better medications, curing diseases that were previously terminal, new medications that prolong life in the face of terminal illness, welfare reform, etc. We have taken steps in the past 65 years, and going much further back than that, to prolong life and improve the quality of life lived. We drink less, smoke less, use protective equipment, use less manually-operated heavy machinery, work less directly with dangerous substances, and take better care of ourselves.
Yay us, right? We’re beating the system and God bless everyone who’s still with us. In the next part of this, you will come to find out why they call this time borrowed.
© 2012 His-Stor-E