In another example of vital statistics being grossly distorted by a combination of poor record keeping and possibly people with a selfish agenda, it is being reported in the Guardian and elsewhere that possibly hundreds of thousands of people over age 100 in Japan are actually dead, but unreported. Investigations are now underway to determine how much of this problem is due to record keeping problems and how much to family members failing to report the deaths of their elderly relatives in order to continue to collect their pension benefits by fraudulent means.
There are more than 77,000 Japanese citizens reported to be over age 120, and even 884 persons AGED OVER 150 YEARS OF AGE, who are still alive according to government rolls.
While we in the US wouldn’t bat an eye if we heard this story coming out of the Chicago area of Cook County, Illinois, given the number of dead people still actively voting in elections there, there are at least 230,000 people in Japan over age 100 who simply cannot be located by any means. This large centenarian population is largely responsible for the very high average life expectancy in Japan (currently listed by the World Bank as 82.6 years, more than four years greater than the US average of 78.4 years (this is including dead voters in Chicago)), as well as any senior citizens under 100 who are actually dead but have not been reported as such on government records.
NOTE: Even if persons over 100 aren’t counted in life expectancy statistics, as is claimed later in the article, the problem doesn’t just begin at age 100, it is clear that whatever problems are at the root of these errors, they extend to a large number of people below age 100 who are also dead but are listed as alive on government records.
This distortion in Japan’s real average life expectancy is a great example of how a large body of statistics can be spoiled by poor record keeping or outright fraud.
Where this becomes problematic for us in the US is that Japan’s high life expectancy has been repeatedly used by the left as “facts” to support their demands for universal health care as well as various changes in the dietary, smoking, and exercise habits of Americans, frequently associated with proposals for large amounts of government regulation and taxation of the lives of private citizens and regulation and banning of various legal products (soda pop, breakfast cereals, beef, etc). We should look on the exposure of this statistical error as an object lesson we can apply to other public policy issues that so-called scientists attempt to promote ‘solutions’ to problems that they claim exist, based on faulty facts.