Life Expectancy Myths

The life expectancy myth, and why many ancient humans lived long healthy lives

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Justbod's picture

Very interesting!

I remember learning at school that during the Industrial Revolution the average life expectancy of a mill worker was 19 and a mill owner 35. At a young age this confused me, as it implies a predominantly young population. I also had ancestor mill owners who's lived into their seventies and an agricultural labourer who'd lived to 93.

It dawned on me years later that it was skewed by the very high child mortality rate.

It seems to me to be a powerful argument for the responsible communication of statistical information!

Thanks for another thought-provoking article!

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That may be a different statistic. Mill workers are a very specific population to look at. Given that you can't really factor babies dying in infancy into that group they likely were actually looking at adult mill workers.Then what you would have had were workers who began working at 5 or 6 years old, kept out of the sunlight and poorly fed (rickets and other deficiency), pulling threads and cleaning/servicing machines where larger hands couldn't (injuries) and breathing dust and fibers continuously (pulmonary ailments). So it's likely that long term mill workers who started young didn't have a very long life. Owners also might have been working around the textiles for a long time, breathing it, and probably were also susceptible to lung ailments. 35 does seem young but I can't see how the average would be dragged down by infant mortality in that case.

Yup, many of our ancestors had great health and longevity, even in ancient Greece many of the well known philosophers lived to 80 years old, and some even into their 90s and 100s, same goes for many philosophers and martial artists of ancient China.

Great diet, mindset, lifestyle and environment = long healthy life.

when I see archaeological digs at the amazingly god shape of the teeth and they didn't have flouride!

Good article. Makes me think there's hope for archaeology.

Less people die younger....more people die older. The increase in the average is does not mean the average maximum is increasing. The people that managed not to die of disease or accidents always made it past their 50's because humans tend to care for their elders, sick, and young.


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