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Life Expectancies of the Democratic Presidential Candidates
July 14, 2019
by William P. Meyers

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Don't expect much from Biden, Warren or Sanders

Age is an issue in the 2020 United States presidential election and the party primaries. Several of the front-running candidates are considerably older than most of our past presidents of the United States. Here I made a convenient table based on standard statistical tables for life expectancy [Social Security Life Expectancy Tables].

I would emphasize, in evaluating the candidates, that being alive is not sufficient to carry out the duties of the President. I myself am close to turn 65. I have seen older friends and relatives deteriorate from health to dementia or being bed-ridden, or death, in remarkably short periods of time. This typically accelerates when a person hits 60. By the time a person hits 70, no matter how healthy, or what the average life expectancy, the chances of sickness, dementia and death in any given year are substantial.

But decide for yourself. Note that life expectancy means half of the people in the age category are expected to die by the year given. I have narrowed the field to twelve candidates for brevity.

Candidate Birthdate Age if elected Age, end of term Age at death, expected
Bernie Sanders September 8, 1941 79 83 88
Joe Biden November 20, 1942 78 82 87
Elizabeth Warren June 22, 1949 70 74 87
Jay Inslee February 9, 1951 69 73 84
Amy Klobuchar May 25, 1960 60 64 85
Bill de Blasio May 8, 1961 59 63 81
John Delaney April 16, 1963 57 61 81
Kamala Harris October 20, 1964 56 60 85
Kirsten Gillibrand December 9, 1966 54 58 84
Beto O'Rourke September 26, 1972 48 52 79
Julian Castro September 16, 1974 46 50 79
Pete Buttigieg January 19, 1982 39 44 79

It should be clear to anyone whose sole concern is good governance that Bernie Sanders and Joe Biden are bad bets for the country. Elizabeth Warren and Jay Inslee are probably okay, at least for one term. All the others can expect to serve two terms in good mental and physical health. Of course, nothing is guaranteed; accidents and health issues happen. The experience and wisdom of age are compensating factors to consider.

One of the interesting things about life expectancy tables is that the younger people have a lower life expectancy, in terms of the age of average death. That is because as you age you survive your peers who die early and bring down the average. While the age of expected death decreases, the year expected death marches into the future. If the oldest candidate, Bernie Sanders, should run again in 2024, his expected age of death will be extended to 90, which would be in 2031. Also note that women have longer life expectancies than men.

President Donald Trump, the presumed Republican Party nominee, was born on June 14, 1946. So he is older than Elizbeth Warren and younger than Joe Biden.

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