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The Odds of Living To 65...

OK, so this is perhaps a really morbid post. But I have a lot of young friends. And many of them own real estate, have spouses, and very small children. And very few of these friends have taken care of their estate planning – as in, met with an attorney, learned about the risks, and put in mechanisms to mitigate those risks.

And I understand why so few of them haven’t –they are not going anywhere, they think. They know, actually.

Well, it’s true, we mostly hear about “old” people dying, not young people. And yet, you hear of young people dying too. I heard about a 53 year old who dropped dead from a heart attack. I heard about a couple that went scuba diving and never came up. I heard about a couple that died in a car crash. And then there’s of course Kurt Cobain, Jimi Hendrix, and James Dean.

But these are singular cases, and I wanted to learn more – how many “young” people are dying? And what age deserves to be classified as “young”? Is there such a thing as “too young to die”?

I went to the CDC website – Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Mortality Data. (http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/deaths.htm) . And I found this report: Deaths, percent of total deaths, and death rates for the 15 leading causes of death in 10-year age groups, by race and sex: United States, 2010. (http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/dvs/LCWK2_2010.pdf).

Here's an overview of deaths in 2010, by age groups:


- In 2010, 2,468,435 people died. This is the total, of all ages. About 11.9% of them were between the ages of 25 and 54. 24.5% were between the ages of 25 and 64.

- 1,232,432 were men (49.93%). Of these men, 184,644 were ages 25-54 (15%, compared to 11.9% combined M and F). 373,939 were between the ages of 25 and 64 (30.3%, compared to the 24.5% of M and F combined). Top 3 killers of men are: malignant neoplasms, diseases of the heart, and accidents. No 1 killer of men 1 - 45 is accidents.

- 1,236,003 were women (50.07%). Top 3 killers of women are: diseases of the heart, malignant neoplasms, and cerebrovascular diseases. No 1 killer of women 35-85 is malignant neoplasms.

Ages 25-34:

- There were 42,259 dead people aged 25-34 (so, more than 1-24 years combined, and 1.7% of total deaths that year). Of these, 29,192 (69%) were men.

Ages 35-44:

- There were 70,033 dead people aged 35-44 (almost double the 25-34 year olds, and 2.8% of total deaths that year). Of these, there were 43,434 men (62% of total).

- Causes of death, in order: accidents, malignant neoplasms (tumors, cancer), and diseases of the heart.

Ages 45-54:

- There were 183,207 dead people aged 45-54 (more than 2.5 times the number of 35-44 year olds, and jumping to 7.4% of total deaths that year). Of these, 112,018 were men (61% of total).

- Causes of death, in order: malignant neoplasms (tumors, cancer) for the first time takes out more people than accidents, then diseases of the heart, and only then accidents (same for men and women).

Ages 55-64:

- There were 310,802 dead people aged 45-54 (almost 2 times the number of 45-54 year olds, and jumping to 12.6% of total deaths that year). Of these, 189,295 were men (61% of total).

- Accidents moves down to #4, with top 3 causes of death now being malignant neoplasms, diseases of the heart, and chronic lower respiratory diseases. (these stay the same all the way up to 85 year olds).

In summary:

- Roughly one third of people who died in 2010 were between the ages of 24 and 64.

- Men were a lot more likely to die young than women, mostly because of accidents, but also because of heart diseases and cancer.

- Accidents don't seem to stop killing men until they are about 65.

- Cancer kills a lot of women.

- What you choose to do depends on your risk tolerance. For me, even a 10% chance would be enough to make sure that if something happens to me, my family would be prepared.


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