"Actuarial odds" of McCain dying in office?

Fareed Zakaria said yesterday that if McCain is elected President, the “actuarial odds” that he will die in office are one in five. Is this correct?

If you Google “McCain” and “Actuarial tables” you’ll get a lot of hits. Here’s what one site has to say:

You’d expect McCain to get better than average health care (heck, they’ve kept Cheney alive all of these years without a soul), but I’d also suspect that the stress he’s exposed to is a lot more intense than your average guy that age. Look at pictures of GWB before and after and the damage that his time in the White House has done to him (ditto previous POTUSes)

He also has had cancer and can’t lift his arms from the beatings he received as a POW, FWIW.

That said, although I definitely won’t be voting for him, I have no doubt that he can serve a full term - or even two - in the White House. His mom is older than dirt and still very healthy.

Is there a compilation of before/after shots for the presidents, incidentally? I’d be interested in seeing the effect.

The problem with actuarial tables, of course, is they describe large populations, not individuals. I have thirteen nonagenerians on my Celebrity Death Pool list this year, but so far just one has died. Go figure.

Here’s what looks like an official portrait as governorof Texas.

Here’s a photo of an aide whispering to himin September, 2001.

Here’s a photo of his arrival in Tel Aviv in January of 2008.

Presidential before & afters

His father died of prostate cancer in Balboa Naval Hospital a few months after turning seventy in 1981. Of course prostate cancer is much more treatable now than it was in 1981, so with current medical science might have lived to be older. Or not.

Woodrow Wilson’s lantern jaw seems to have somehow receded . . . :dubious:

Nixon comes out the winner in that line-up.
Also, the above-posted “middle” picture of Bush is now 404ing.

Wow, I guess I never noticed what a freakishly gigantonourmous Northern hemisphere of the head Ike had. :eek:

Huh. Looks like both Bush and Clinton had to lay off the carrot juice as presidents.

Sounds like a Wheel Of Fortune category! :smiley:

Or Jeopardy!

I’m guessing Clinton’s after picture is also post-heart surgery. He’s looked significantly thinner and older since then.

Old age life expectancy is much higher for women than men. If McCain’s father were still alive at 90 that would mean a lot more.

More to the point, actuarial tables are describing the odds of survival for an individual selected at random from the population without any further information regarding that individual. We have a lot more information regarding our presidential candidates than other people, and any calculation not taking that into account is going to be off.

But just for kicks, I’ll estimate McCain’s survival probabilities using the Social Security Agency’s life table. I get that McCain has about an 11.5% chance of dying in the next four years, and about a 31.5% chance of dying in the next eight. Note that this assumes that the calculations are done on his birthday, and the fact that he’s been 72 for a while means that his odds are slightly higher. But for the back of the envelope calculations we’re looking at here, that probably doesn’t matter too much, especially given that I’m using a standard life table like I just said not to do.

An actuarily company calculated the odds for both candidates, taking into account their individual health histories. The article I saw doesn’t have the numbers for the first term, but it estimated a 25% chance McCain would not make it through two terms. See the article here.

While the job of POTUS is no doubt highly stressful, I have to wonder if the effects of normal aging aren’t responsible for the changes. After all, we’re talking about men who are 40+ years old when they take office, and the aging process can ramp up pretty quickly at that point. How would a sampling of the general population at roughly the same ages compare in photos with those of Presidents?

Just what I was thinking. Two US Presidential terms is eight years - I think most people will look older in eight years’ time than they do now, regardless of whether they’re US President or just an ordinary person. The series of before-and-after photos posted above didn’t look to me like anything more than the normal effects of eight years’ aging. (Well, Eisenhower looked a lot older, admittedly.)

Oh, and another thing - in several of the “before-and-afters” the “before” picture shows the POTUS smiling while the “after” does not. Smiling tends to make you look more youthful, however old you are.

I think there’s more at work here than just normal aging. The ‘after’ pictures betray years of stress and of long hours at work spent almost entirely indoors. I doubt that being President is a 40-hour-a-week job, and overtime over a period of years takes its toll as it does on many people who work in offices elsewhere.

FDR seems the least aged to me, all the more surprising since he held the office longest, and arguably through America’s two greatest crises of the 20th century.