Friday, October 5, 2012

Are they gaming the life expectancy data?

First came this:

From NY Times, Dec. 9, 2010:

Life Expectancy Drops Slightly, Bucking Established Trend [AP]
"Life expectancy in the United States has dropped slightly — by about a month ... " 

From the T&G, March 17, 2011:
"ATLANTA [AP} — U.S. life expectancy has hit another all-time high, rising above 78 years. 

"Previously, the CDC said a one-month dip occurred in 2008 to 77 years and 11 months. But in Wednesday’s report, the agency corrected that to 78 years, attributing the glitch to a computer programming error. 

"Belatedly, 'we realized there’s something wrong here' in the 2008 estimate, said Ken Kochanek, a CDC statistician. 


In a New York Times article that same day, Kochanek told a reporter that after the initial estimate, in Dec. 2010, his boss had come to him saying - as I recall - This can't be right. There must be a mistake in your computer program. Go find it and fix it. And sure enough there was, and he did. 

I have searched diligently for that article.  I swear on my Mother's grave I saw it, no mistake about what was in it.  It seems to have disappeared from the Web.  Someone with access to an archive of paper copies of the Times (if anyone still keeps one, and I fear to have to say we really need to) will find it there, unless someone has gone around tearing pages out of those too!

Telegram, Sept. 23:
Life expectancy falls for less-educated Americans
Sabrina Tavernise THE NEW YORK TIMES

For generations of Americans, it was a given that children would live longer than their parents. But there is mounting evidence that this trend has reversed itself for the country's least-educated whites, an increasingly troubled group whose life expectancy has fallen by four years since 1990.
The steepest declines were for white women without a high school diploma, who lost five years of life between 1990 and 2008
Among developed countries, American women sank from the middle of the pack in 1970 to last place in 2010, according to the Human Mortality Database.
Three other studies, by Ahmedin Jemal, a researcher at the American Cancer Society; Jennifer Karas Montez, a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Health and Society Scholar at Harvard; and Richard Miech, a professor at the University of Colorado Denver, found increases in mortality rates (the ratio of deaths to a population) for the least educated Americans.

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