As a life insurance specialists, we speak with many individuals every day who are ecstatic about the rate they got, and just as many who are floored. For those who are disappointed, we’re always asked something to the tune of, “But how can the insurance company charge me so much?!”
Usually it’s a health issue, a mix of lifestyle choices, criminal issues, or some other type of concern, but sometimes it’s simply age or gender.
The exact answer is actually: statistics.
Your life expectancy is a direct, statistical analysis of everything about you, and cost of life insurance is paired against a chart of premiums matching this data. Each company uses mortality and morbidity tables, mass amounts of data, and the specific information you give them to determine your risk.
This risk pairs with a premium based on all these factors, and that is why you pay what you do.
But how can you figure out your own life expectancy?
Life Expectancy: Visual Data
It’s quite impossible to determine your actual life expectancy, considering the vast number of variables. Even a single variable, like whether or not you smoke, could throw it off by years. Having said that, we began compiling information on life expectancy on a global scale, so we could look at other factors which are rarely consider by any insurance carrier.
Here are some variables we tested:
- Global Position
- Gender Inequality
- Population Relevancy
- Wealth Relevancy
Life Expectancy by Country
First, we mapped out the world using data to get a space-eye view on where life expectancy is the greatest, and the least. Here’s the map of the world:
Just by looking at the map, you can get a fairly good idea how diverse of a range you could expect simply by navigating the globe. This map represents the overall life expectancy for its given country.
Using a simpler view, you can see the discrepancy is actually much larger than it appears on the map:
Again, this is a representation of overall life expectancy by global position, all things being considered.
But as we break things down further, things get a little more interesting.
Life Expectancy and Gender Inequality
One of the first questions on any life insurance application is going to be your gender because it’s perhaps one of the greatest indications of how long you’ll live. Women will, ceteris paribus, live longer. But how much longer? Globally, the average is about 4.88 years.
When we looked at the data as a whole, few things stood out immediately.
However, when we looked at different data sets and segmented the countries, we found some strange oddities. For example, here’s the top 20 countries by longevity, broken down by their male, female and average data points.
As expected, women live the longest, men the least, and their average falls in between. But there are striking differences between gender gaps in different countries. In Japan, for example, women may only live 2 years longer than men, whereas in France, as many as 7 years longer.
We took this same analysis and applied it to the median life expectancy countries to see what else we could infer:
With somewhat similar results, a woman in Tonga could outlive her male counterpart by just 3 years, but females in Latvia could outlast their men by more than 9. So one could expect the same for the bottom 20 countries when ordered by longevity, right?
See for yourself:
The corridor of differences has shrunken, but so has the overall life expectancy. Proportionally, the differences are a non-issue, and it would seem, regardless of country, women will live longer than men to a proportionate degree.
But just for kicks, let’s take a look at the countries where gender inequality in life expectancy is the greatest, and see what kind of information we can draw from it. Here is a chart of the 10 countries with the greatest gaps between their men and women’s respective life expectancies:
It’s interesting to note their global positioning, because 8 of 10 are European or Asian, with the lowest of the 2 in Africa. What is it about these locations, or countries in specific, which creates such a gap in lifespan for men and women? Maybe it is their country’s lifespan which creates this data.
Well, let’s compare both the gender inequality gap to overall life expectancy and see what we get:
There isn’t much to write home about. The countries with severe gender gaps in lifespan are in line with the gender neutral average overall lifespan of humans globally, which is 71.38. So, perhaps it might be more interesting if we took the inverse.
What if we compared the countries with the least gap between men and women, and also charted them against the overall average. Here’s what we end up with:
Proportionally, this is somewhat expected, with exception to both Bangladesh and Malawi. Malawi has an overall average attainable age under the average by nearly a decade, but Bangladesh falls almost on point with the overall average globally.
With respect to large fluctuations in overall life expectancy differences, as well as the possibility of inequality gaps in parts of Eastern Europe and Asia, little else can be determined by global position alone.
Life Expectancy Gaps and Population
So let’s throw a new variable into the mix. How might a countries population affect this gender gap? Let’s find out. We took the top 10 countries by population and compared their gender inequality to the average gender gap worldwide:
This turned out to be much more interesting than anticipated. With the exception to the United States, there was a clear divide in results. Either the country far exceeded the average gender gap, or it was well below. I would have expected a much tighter comparison considering the sheer volume of people we are looking at here (billions), but it’s simply not the case.
If you combine them all and average them, you arrive at a gender equality gap of 4.7, oddly close to the 4.88 worldwide mean. But dissecting them geographically compounds the differences visually.
So let’s evaluate yet another variable, wealth.
Life Expectancy by Country’s Wealth
One might expect to see a wealthy country have greater life expectancy ranges than average due to succeeding economies, systems in place for medicine, and overall access to basic necessities of life. But how true is it?
Here we took the top 10 countries by overall wealth and compared their overall life expectancy to the average life expectancy worldwide:
All 10 exceeded the average by a decade, except for China, who is still exceeding the average by more than 4 years. Access to a wealthy country will, obviously, have an impact on the general lifespan of an inhabitant for both genders.
Without a doubt, where you live in the world has a great impact on your potential lifespan. Furthermore, depending on your gender, you could see even greater fluctuations.