McCain and Mortality: What the Tables Show

A man his age has a 15% chance of dying in one term, 33% in two
By Katherine Thompson,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 3, 2008 3:01 PM CDT
Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama waves to people as he leaves Punahou School after playing basketball in Honolulu, Hawaii, Tuesday, Aug. 12, 2008.   (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
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(Newser) – With all the talk about John McCain's advanced age and the suitability of his vice presidential pick, Politico offers up some statistics on mortality rates. According to the actuarial tables that insurance companies use, there is about a 15% chance that a 72-year-old man would die within 4 years—and a 33% chance within 8.

Insurance tables tend to be pessimistic, but even the more conservative statistics show a 10% chance that someone of McCain's age wouldn't survive a term in office. And, one professor of risk management adds, serving as president itself has to be a risk factor: “I think people do believe it tends to age you rather quickly.” Barack Obama's chances are between six and 10 times as good as his opponent's: 2.4% of men his age are likely to die within 4 years, the number is down to 1.6% for non-smokers.