Archiver > TRANSITIONAL-GENEALOGISTS-FORUM > 2011-05 > 1304540075

From: "Fredric Z. Saunders" <>
Subject: Re: [TGF] FYI in history
Date: Wed, 4 May 2011 14:14:35 -0600
References: <>
In-Reply-To: <>

The one thing that has always bothered me about the statements of a person
born in xxxx would only be expected to live to age xx, is that they never
give the *whole* story, and the way some genealogists interpret such

It's the old story of you can make statistics say what ever you want
depending on how you present them. I've seen genealogists make such
comments as their ancestor lived to age 75 when they would have been
"expected" to die at 45, and treat it as if it were a "rare" event to live
30 years past the "average.". No, in order to be your ancestor, that means
they reached maturity, so living to age 75 in the past for someone who made
it to maturity was nothing significant.

Other studies indicate most of the gains in "average" life expectancy are
due to the decrease in childhood mortality. If you compare the "average" age
a person dies at today compared to the "average" age a person in the past
died at AFTER they had reached maturity, the age at which an "average"
person dies today is only a few years greater than it was 400 years ago for
someone who made it past all the childhood diseases.

Rick Saunders


[mailto:] On Behalf Of
Harold Henderson
Sent: Wednesday, May 04, 2011 1:47 PM
To: Transitional Genealogists
Subject: [TGF] FYI in history

For those interested in a different kind of historical context, a
prepublication review of Robert Fogel's soon-to-be-published life work:

"The average adult man in 1850 in America stood about 5 feet 7 inches and
weighed about 146 pounds; someone born then was expected to live until about
45. In the 1980s the typical man in his early 30s was about 5 feet 10 inches
tall, weighed about 174 pounds and was likely to pass his 75th birthday."

The New York Times reporter makes clear that the nearly worldwide increases
are not in dispute, but the precise causes may be.


Harold Henderson
Research and Writing from NW Indiana
Professional genealogy in and around Chicago -- Rockford to Fort Wayne,
Muskegon to Indianapolis
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