The bit that really bothers me is this:
The average British man is 38, will live another 41 years and is educated at least to A-levels.
The figures […] show the average British woman is two years older and will live to 72.
Back when I first became aware of the idea of life expectancy, it was said that women would, on average, outlive men. (Which made it doubly unfair that we should start to claim our pensions so much sooner then they did.) That’s not so very many years ago, so, how, in such a short time, has a woman’s life expectancy dropped, and a man’s risen so much that he can now expect to outlive her by several years?
Of course I didn’t believe it, so I looked elsewhere. In the Telegraph, they tell a different story:
The average British man is 38 years old, has 41 years left to live and has completed A-levels, while the typical woman is aged 40, will live for another 42 years and is educated up to GCSE A*-C level.
I definately prefer those figures, and perhaps I’ll decide to start reading the Torygraph if it offers a more positive view of things than the BBC.
Beyond the fact that, whether male or female, whoever wrote (and subbed) that story appears to have less than an average education in maths and general knowledge, there is some juggling we can do with the BBC figures and phrasing, which I think is rather fun.
I said a man can expect to outlive a woman “by several years”. But just how many are several?
- The average man is 38 and will live another 41 years.
- The average woman is 40 and will live until she’s 72 – that’s another 32 years.
- Logically, then, the average man will live nine years longer than the average woman.
- The average man will live until he’s 79.
- The average woman will live until she’s 72.
- The average man will live seven years longer than the average woman.
Since we are working from the same basic premise in each case, I seem to have just demonstrated that nine is the same as seven.
I always knew you could prove anything with stats – and perhaps more so if you quote them wrongly in the first place.