The odds of dying: Genders, risk and what you might leave behind

Are the odds in your favor?

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There’s some evidence to suggest that contemplating death may make you funnier and even help you save money. Whether or not that does the trick for you, one thing is certain: Of the more than 100 billion people who’ve ever lived, all of them have had to deal with it. Might as well face the inevitable armed with the rates and risks of death and dying.

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What are the odds of dying for men and women?

Most of us expect to live well into retirement, but it turns out the odds of dying before you reach retirement decrease as you age. It makes sense that there’s a greater chance of accidental death occurring within the 20 years leading up to retirement than within the 5 years immediately before you retire. Interestingly, women generally have lower odds of dying compared to men.

The table below gives the percentage chance of a non-smoker dying before age 65 according to Canada Life, based on data from the Canadian Institute of Actuaries.

Calculations for the likelihood of death are merely based on average mortality among specific populations, gender and age groups. They do not predict the specific percentage chance of any one person dying — including you — and does not consider personal health or lifestyle information, which can dramatically alter a person’s likelihood of living past a certain age. If you’re concerned about your overall health and risks, talk to your doctor or health professional.
Age
Male
Females
25 years old7%5%
35 years old6%4%
45 years old5%4%
55 years old2%2%
60 years old1%1%

What is the life expectancy for men and women?

Life expectancy is another interesting angle to view the issue of death. Life expectancy is the number of years you are expected to live past a certain age. The numbers show the same trend as the odds of dying – women are generally expected to live longer lives than similarly aged men. Still, as both men and women age the life expectancy gap narrows, and by age 90 they have similar life expectancies.

The actuarial table below is from the most recent mortality rates from 2016-2018 — directly from Statistics Canada. It does not consider personal health or lifestyle information, which can dramatically alter a person’s life expectancy.

Life expectancy calculations are based on averages of mortality among specific populations, gender and age groups. These calculations are not predictive of the specific life expectancy for any one person — including you. If you’re concerned about your overall health risks, talk to your doctor or health care professional.
Age
Male
(the number of remaining
years expected to live)
Female
(the number of remaining
years expected to live)
0 year79.984.1
1 year79.383.4
2 years78.382.4
3 years77.381.4
4 years76.380.5
5 years75.379.5
6 years74.378.5
7 years73.377.5
8 years72.376.5
9 years71.475.5
10 years70.474.5
11 years69.473.5
12 years68.472.5
13 years67.471.5
14 years66.470.5
15 years65.469.5
16 years64.468.5
17 years63.467.6
18 years62.566.6
19 years61.565.6
20 years60.564.6
21 years59.663.6
22 years58.662.6
23 years57.761.7
24 years56.760.7
25 years55.859.7
26 years54.858.7
27 years53.957.8
28 years52.956.8
29 years52.055.8
30 years51.054.8
31 years50.153.9
32 years49.152.9
33 years48.251.9
34 years47.250.9
35 years46.350.0
36 years45.349.0
37 years44.448.0
38 years43.447.1
39 years42.546.1
40 years41.645.1
41 years40.644.2
42 years39.743.2
43 years38.742.2
44 years37.841.3
45 years36.940.3
46 years35.939.4
47 years35.038.4
48 years34.137.5
49 years33.236.5
50 years32.335.6
51 years31.434.7
52 years30.533.7
53 years29.632.8
54 years28.731.9
55 years27.831.0
56 years26.930.1
57 years26.129.2
58 years25.228.3
59 years24.327.4
60 years23.526.5
61 years22.725.6
62 years21.824.7
63 years21.023.8
64 years20.223.0
65 years19.422.1
66 years18.621.3
67 years17.820.5
68 years17.119.6
69 years16.318.8
70 years15.618.0
71 years14.917.2
72 years14.216.5
73 years13.515.7
74 years12.814.9
75 years12.114.2
76 years11.513.5
77 years10.912.8
78 years10.312.1
79 years9.711.4
80 years9.110.8
81 years8.510.1
82 years8.09.5
83 years7.58.9
84 years7.08.3
85 years6.57.8
86 years6.17.2
87 years5.66.7
88 years5.26.2
89 years4.85.8
90 years4.55.3
91 years4.14.9
92 years3.84.6
93 years3.64.2
94 years3.33.9
95 years3.13.6
96 years2.83.3
97 years2.73.1
98 years2.52.9
99 years2.32.7
100 years2.22.5
101 years2.02.3
102 years1.92.2
103 years1.82.0
104 years1.71.9
105 years1.61.8
106 years1.61.7
107 years1.51.6
108 years1.51.6
109 years1.41.5
110 years and over1.41.5

Source: Life expectancy taken from Statistics Canada 2016-2018 Life Tables.

Methodology

The data in the table is sourced from a 2016-2018 actuarial life table from Statistics Canada. Your actual life expectancy could be higher or lower depending on a range of health and lifestyle factors. Actuarial tables are about as close as we’ll ever come to being able to predict when we’ll die – in a general sense. The question of “how we’ll die” will vary based on each persons’ unique set of circumstances. Talk to your doctor or health care professional if you have any specific health concerns.

Are you a risk taker?

Instinct tells us that riskier activities increase your likelihood of dying. But what counts as a risk? You might be surprised to find out that your job or common activities and hobbies can increase your chances of dying by quite a bit. Here’s a list of some activities that increase your risk of death.

  • Riding a bike. No kidding, this is actually one of the most risky common activities you can do. The age-standardized cycling death rate in Canada is 151 per 1,000,000 population.
  • Snowboarding and Skiing. Whether if it’s from an avalanche or an accident, these are pretty risky sports.
  • Swimming. Even if you consider yourself a good swimmer, accidents happen – putting swimming on the list of risky activities.
  • Skydiving. It’s pretty obvious how skydiving accidents could lead to death.

What happens to the debt we leave behind?

Most of us have heard the popular idiom “you can’t take it with you when you go” which refers to money as having no value in the hereafter. And while true, fails to capture the full story as money will still likely play a meaningful role in the lives of those that we leave behind.

Although funeral costs can vary widely depending on which province you live in and what type of ceremony you want, according to InMemory, the average cost of a funeral service and burial in Canada can be around $13,000. Cremations on the other hand can be around $3,000 to $5,500. Who knew that dying could be so expensive, but more importantly who’s responsible for these expenses when you die?

What’s more, the government will pay any of your outstanding debt from your estate after you die, before the beneficiaries of your will receive any money. In the event that there’s not enough in your estate to cover the debts, they will go unpaid.

Generally, this means that your living beneficiaries are not on the hook for repaying your debts. However, your loved ones could find themselves having to repay any debts that they co-signed for – like a mortgage or a car loan.

Perhaps the most concerning aspect of leaving behind significant debt is the fact that you could be denying your loved ones keepsakes that you had always planned for your surviving family to inherit. Should you die without sufficient assets to cover your debt, that house, painting, or even coin collection that you thought would be passed down to the next generation could be liquidated to pay off your obligations.

You should know that both life insurance and retirement accounts are totally exempt from being used to satisfy debt as long as you name beneficiaries for those funds other than your estate.

Leaving behind debt can interfere with your peace of mind during your final days. The last thing you should be thinking about as you drift toward the light at the end of the tunnel is “who’s going to pay for my funeral service?” or “what’s going to happen to grandma’s ring?” Luckily, there are ways to avoid this through proper planning, which is always best to get a head start on… because you never know what’s around the corner.

How can you protect yourself?

There are many misconceptions surrounding life insurance, one of which is cost. It’s easy for people to think that the price of life insurance is significantly more costly than it is in reality. But in reality it can cost less than most of your other expenses. For example, the cost of a 20 year term life insurance policy with a $250,000 death benefit for a 30 year old non-smoking male, could be around $20.00 per month. That’s less than a tank of gas, and about the same as a dinner out at a restaurant.

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Bottom line

Death isn’t something the average person likes to think about. But since it’s inevitable, there is no reason to avoid confronting proper planning around your finances.

Life insurance is a great way to ensure that your financial legacy isn’t one where your loved ones are scrambling to pay for your final-expenses, your dependents are struggling to make ends meet and your most prized possessions aren’t sold off to pay back debt.

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