Jerry Kopel

Fixing the Mortality Tables in Colorado Statutes


Oct. 18, 2010

By Jerry Kopel

Colorado's "mortality" or "life expectancy" tables in CRS 13-25-102 and 103 are a dozen years out of place (use of life expectancy as of 1998).

Also 13-25-103 numbers are false numbers. They are based on a continuing "compromise" taking years of life away from women and giving a false boost to male longevity. Giving incorrect information goes back to the original mortality table of 1893. Whoever decides to re-do this statute in 2011 can use separate expectancy numbers for male and female..

Each year it becomes possible to break down yearly life tables into smaller entities. The tables come from the National Center for Health Statistics in Atlanta, GA, based on today's health risk and demographics.

Mortality tables help determine premium costs for life insurance and are also as a start in litigation. Courts and the statute recognize the tables are not conclusive evidence, just a starting point along with other evidence as to your heath, habits and occupation.

A period life table is based on the mortality experience of a population during a relative short period of time. The example used is the 2006 table for the Social Security population. It presents a "snap-shot" of a given age remaining if a group of persons at that age were to experience the mortality rates for 2006 over the course of their remaining life. The table includes every year, not just decades shown below.
Exact age Life expectancy added
to present exact age
  Male Female
10 65.80 70.82
20 57.06 60.99
30 46.89 51.28
40 37.61 41.70
50 28.78 32.49
60 20.70 23.78
70 13.55 15.90
80 7.78 9.33
90 3.84 4.62
100 2.01 2.35

Notice the longer you live the less difference there is between male and female total years.

Looking at the table used in 1893, the first age used was 10. That may have been because life expectancy for babies and the very young wasn't as good as it is with today's medical care and vaccinations.

Chief sponsor should have legislative staff seek out the most complete male-female data available for each year. The Center For Disease Control shows life expectancy at birth by race and sex in the U.S. in 2006:

Female hispanic, 83.1; white, 80.4; black, 76.2. Male hispanic, 77.9; white, 75.6; black, 69.2.

The Wall Street Journal warns that assimilation of the 15 percent of population that is hispanic could reduce any higher life totals as bad health habits take hold.

(Jerry Kopel served 22 years in the Colorado House.)

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