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Is Joe Biden Likely to Die Within 5-6 Years?
Why not ask an actuary? Especially one who has looked at these questions before...
Let’s see what spurred me to address this question:
27 April - NBC: Nikki Haley: Biden is likely to die within five years
Republican presidential candidate Nikki Haley said Wednesday that President Joe Biden, 80, is likely to die within five years and that his supporters would have to count on Vice President Kamala Harris if he were to win re-election next year.
“He announced that he’s running again in 2024, and I think that we can all be very clear and say with a matter of fact that if you vote for Joe Biden you really are counting on a President Harris, because the idea that he would make it until 86 years old is not something that I think is likely,” Haley, 51, said in an interview on Fox News.
At 80 years old, Biden is the oldest president in American history, and if reelected, he would be 86 when ending his second term. It’s been a looming political issue for the president, with polls consistently reflecting concern about his age, even among Democrats, before a reelection run was announced.
What About Trump?
Republican former Congressman Will Hurd said age will be a central issue in the 2024 campaign for both likely candidates, noting “guess what, Donald Trump’s no spring chicken either.”
Yup — Biden is currently 80, and Trump is 76 years old.
I last addressed the issue of survivorship of Trump and Biden (and Hillary Clinton) back in December 2021:
As this is in the news again, let me do this calculation again, but drop Clinton, as I doubt she will run.
So I will keep things simple, as this is just a rough estimate anyway.
When trying to determine survival probabilities for an individual, you will have a lot of uncertainty embedded.
Here’s the approach:
Using age last birthday (80 for Biden, 76 for Trump)
Social Security 2019 Life Tables (to avoid dealing with COVID-related mortality increases)
I assume that Biden’s & Trump’s death probabilities are independent (this is relevant only for the joint probability distribution)
Probability of survival to election (2 years): 88%
Probability of survival to end of second term (6 years): 63%
So, Biden has a better than 50% chance of surviving to the end of a second term, but that’s really not a very high survival rate.
To be sure, one could argue that, as president, Biden would have the best medical care of all — very true. But he would not necessarily be in a condition to be president. You never know, after all.
Some people do function well into old age, but… many people don’t.
Probability of survival to election (2 years): 92%
Probability of survival to end of second term (6 years): 74%
With Trump, there’s more than a 25% chance of not making it to the end of a second term.
Again, these are broad estimates. The main point is to show the steepness of the mortality curves with old age, especially past age 80.
Graph of Survivorship for Biden and Trump
Here is the graph:
And yes, if one looks at the calculations, Biden passes the median (aka 50% survivorship) about 9 years out.
Geeking out interlude: calculations and spreadsheet
S_x = probability of surviving to that year (so there is a 6% chance of surviving 18 years, based on this assumption set).
q_x = probability of dying in that year, given you survived up to that year. That is the probability you see in mortality tables (also known as Life Tables).
Same table for Trump:
And for totally absurd reasons, I projected the joint distribution:
For less absurd reasons, I allow users to put in whatever probability assumptions they want to get joint results: [it’s not complicated for two — originally I had three candidates]
Here’s the spreadsheet:
What’s the point?
Okay, let’s get real — both of these guys are really old. Biden is older than Trump. There is other information one can take in as to probable health status, and no matter your opinion on the mental ability of either of them, one absolute requirement of being president is being alive.
So, whether one or both are candidates in 2024, yes, one should also assess their vice presidential candidates as well.
I have written about the age of not only presidential candidates for years but also Senate and House members. It is not age-ism to remind people that people die, and the older one gets, the more likely one is likely to die, all else held equal.
Maybe one day that will change, but that is not yet true.
All I’m saying… yeah, pay attention to vice-presidential candidate choices.
December 2021: Old Politicians: Trump v. Biden v. Clinton
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