Am I old?
December 14, 2006 9:07 AM   Subscribe

Given today's global population sample, at what age are you older than the majority of people on earth?

Or, I think this is the same question, what's the oldest you can be and still be younger than the majority of people on earth?
posted by milarepa to Grab Bag (10 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite

That's a median.

According to a World Economic Forum presentation in January 2005, the median age worldwide was 26 in the year 2000, and projected to rise to 37 by 2050.

And here's a list of median ages by country, according to the CIA Factbook.
posted by Doofus Magoo at 9:25 AM on December 14, 2006

Oooh! I've always wanted to know the answer to a version of this. Namely the average human life span over the last few thousand years. Yours is a great question, milarepa.
posted by malaprohibita at 10:04 AM on December 14, 2006

(From Doofus Magoo's 3rd link)
What's up with the United Arab Emirates? Men 34, women 23?
Are women dying younger or are more baby girls being born?
That seems like a much larger discrepancy than most other countries.
posted by rmless at 10:30 AM on December 14, 2006

malaprohibita: Average human life span is not something that is easy to get at. I dont just mean lack of data but also the fact that say, during times of high infant mortality you'll get lots of people living to the age of 1,2,3 years old.

Averages are always misleading in that they try to represent a complex distribution with just one number. In the case of say nice Bell curves it is useful to talk about the average. In very complex, chaotic distributions, the concept of an average has little to no meaning.
posted by vacapinta at 10:33 AM on December 14, 2006

malaprohibita: The Wikipedia page on life expectancy has broad life expectancy trends going back to the Neanderthals (supposedly cited from the 1961 Encyclopedia Britannica).
posted by Doofus Magoo at 10:34 AM on December 14, 2006


Look at the turnaround in life expectancy in Sub-Saharan Africa around 1990 on the graph on the Wikipedia page. Am I correct in thinking that's the effect of the AIDS epidemic?
posted by dseaton at 11:06 AM on December 14, 2006

This is great stuff everyone. I always knew the average human lifespan thing would be a difficult question to address, but it makes for a great intellectual exercise (for me anyway).
posted by malaprohibita at 11:12 AM on December 14, 2006

To phrase it more specifically, milarepa's question got me wondering at what age you have outlived most of the people who have ever been born.

Is my question arbitrary? Sure, but I'm more interested in generality than specificity anyway.
posted by malaprohibita at 11:57 AM on December 14, 2006

rmless, I suspect it reflects that the migrant workers from the Subcontinent who make up the blue-collar workforce there are predominantly male.
posted by Aidan Kehoe at 12:36 PM on December 14, 2006

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