Older people have longer average life expectancy

Via Lubos Motl, I today came across another wonderful piece of recent scientific research. From the Harvard University Gazette, after a detailed statistical analysis the National Center for Heath Statistics has concluded the following,

the older you are today, the greater the age you are likely to reach.

The reason for this?

Because they [older people] have already dodged the mortal dangers that do in younger people: infant mortality, violence, and auto wrecks.

What an insightful interpretation of a complete load of crap. Allow me to offer my own interpretation. Assume average life-expectancy is not changing with time. Then, for any age distribution of the population, the average life-expectancy of a subset of that population over a particular age, will necessarily be higher than the average life-expectancy of the entire population. Next, if average life-expectancy is increasing over time (which it is, as a result of improved nutrition, medicine etc.) then on average, people born later can expect to live longer than people born earlier. Thus, the only explanation for the observed trend, that the older you are, the longer you are likely to live, is that the statistics are dominated by the first effect, that of post-selection pushing up the average.

What a brilliant piece of research. Publish it in Nature.

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