Robert Krulwich revisits the mysterious but true Gompertz Law of Human Mortality, named for the British actuary who had originally discovered this mathematical fact back in 1825.
Obviously, when you’re young (and past the extra-risky years of early childhood), the chances of dying in the coming year are minuscule — roughly 1 in 3,000 for 25-year-olds. (This is a group average, of course.)
But eight years later, the tables said, the odds will roughly double. ”When I’m 33 [the chances of my dying that year] will be about 1 in 1,500.”
And eight years after that…the odds double again: “It will be about 1 in 750.”
And eight years later, there’s another doubling. Looking down the chart, you’ll see that keeps happening and happening and happening. “Your probability of dying during a given year doubles every eight years.”
A helpful, if horrifying, chart: