Life Expectancy of Males During the Time Periods of World War I and II

Nava Moniriarani & Kristen Speerschneider

 

Abstract

††††††††††† We collected data to see if the life expectancy of males born between 1915 and 1925, was greater than the life expectancy of males born between 1888 and 1898.We wanted to collect data on these particular birth years because we were interested in seeing if there was a difference between life expectancy of males who may have been involved in one of the two World Wars.The difference was not significant in the life expectancy between the males born between 1915 and 1925 and the males born between 1888 and 1898 (p = 0.08).

Keywords:life expectancy, males, wars

 

Introduction

††††††††††† The life expectancy for men has continued to rise over the years (Hacker, 2010).However, males continue to have a lower life expectancy then their female counterparts with an average life expectancy of 76.3 years (Wang, Schumacher, & Murray, 2013).There are several reasons that life expectancy continues to climb, some of which are: improved universal sanitation techniques, improved nutritional diets, vaccinations against common diseases, increased and improved access to health care (in both every day and emergency situations), and improved drugs, like antibiotics (Veit, 2012).Males that were born between 1888 and 1898 would have been old enough to either experience or engage in World War I.Male individuals who were born between 1915 and 1925 would have been old enough to either experience or engage in World War II.These two historical events could have had an impact on the life expectancy in the male population.Advancements in medical care, medical procedures, weapons, and fighting techniques could have provided an increase in the life expectancy of males born between 1915 and 1925 if they were involved in the war, or if they were not involved in the war.We were particularly interested in gathering data that would provide information on whether or not there was a difference in life expectancy amongst males with birth dates in the two age ranges.We were aware, however, that the Great Depression (1929 to 1939) was occurring during that time as well.This could have potentially had an impact on the life expectancy of male individuals in the population as well.

††††††††††† This experiment was designed to determine if the life expectancy of males born between 1915 and 1925 was greater than that of males born between 1888 and 1898.Our hypothesis was that males born between 1915 and 1925 had a longer life expectancy than males born between 1888 and 1898.†† ††

 

Materials and Methods

††††††††††† This research experiment was conducted on the morning of Saturday, November 2nd, 2013 at approximately 1000 Central Standard Time.We selected the birth date range of 1888 to 1898 because the male individuals born between these dates would have been old enough to be involved in World War I.We selected the birth date range of 1915 to 1925 because the male individuals born in this date range would have been old enough to be involved in World War II.We chose to compare these two date ranges because we were interested in discovering if there was a difference in life expectancy of individuals between the two World Wars.We also chose to just collect data on males during these date ranges because that was the gender that was most involved in the wars.We collected birth and death dates in two separate cemeteries located in Milwaukee, Second Home Cemetery (3705 S 43rd St, Milwaukee, WI 53220) and Good Hope Cemetery (4141 S 43rd St, Greenfield, WI 53220).We collected the birth and death dates of 600 individuals, 300 from the date range of 1888 to 1898 and 300 from the date range of 1915 to 1925.After all of the dates were recorded, we organized the dates by placing each individualís age at the time of their death into separate age ranges.During the process, we kept the data that we collected on the individuals separate.After the number of males in each age range was tallied, we then calculated the dᵡ value by using the Microsoft Excel spreadsheet that was provided for us, which represents the number of individuals that died between a specific age ranges.After the dᵡ value was calculated we analyzed the data using a 1 tailed, type 1 T-Test on Microsoft Excel, because we were comparing the life expectancy of two groups of individuals, men born between 1888 and 1898 and men born between 1915 and 1925.

 

 

††††††††† Results

The difference between the group born between 1915 and 1925 and the group born between 1888 and 1898 was not statistically significant (P =0.08).The average age of the first group born between 1888 and 1898 was 27, with a standard deviation of 24.85 years, while the average age of the second group born between 1915 and 1925 was 26.9, with a standard deviation of 26.5 years (Fig.1).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Figure 1.Life expectancy of males born between 1888 and 1898 (Mean: 27, SD: -24.85).Life expectancy of males born between 1915 and 1925 (Mean: 26.9, SD: 26.5).

 

 

Discussion

Our data didnít show consistent findings of life expectancy based on birth dates according to the line graph generated. The life expectancies of both groups continuously overlapped making it difficult to conclude our hypothesis. One reason for this outcome may be because we gathered some of our data from a Jewish based cemetery where many of the deceased cause of death was attributed to the holocaust during World War II. Approximately six million Jews were murdered during WWII, and many of the deaths recorded in the Jewish cemetery were recorded as ďdied in German concentration campsĒ (Paulsson, 2011).These references on the headstones provided us with concrete evidence of how that particular individual died.For the other individuals, we are not certain of their cause of death. Therefore our hypothesis was not fully supported that individuals born between 1888 and 1898 would have a lower life expectancy than individuals born between 1915 and 1925 based on the different medical and healthcare advances.Although we donít know for certain that the deaths of the individuals recorded were due to the two World Wars, we can use the information gathered to calculate life expectancy for certain populations and make inferences about what may have possibly aided in their deaths.

While performing the study, there were a few limitations to our study.First, as we entered the cemetery, we did not have a specific way to choose which headstones would be involved in the research; we simply walked around the cemetery and recorded birth dates that were within the ranges we had specified.Before collecting data we did not specify whether or not we would include childrenís deaths in our study.In both cemeteries there was a separate area that was dedicated to children, in the end we chose not to include this data into our research because we felt that it would potentially alter or misrepresent the data that we were collecting. If we were to repeat the study we would gather more data on individuals from multiple cemetery sites and research their exact cause of death, this would help support our hypothesis more strongly.We would have also tried to make the sample more random, by random selection of the headstones and cemeteries.

In the future, we would like to separate the groups by gender, instead of age, and analyze if the causes of death in these individuals were due to the two World Wars.


 

Literature Cited

 

Hacker, J. D. (2010). Decennial life tables for the white population of the United States, 1790-1900. Historical Methods, 43, 45-79. Retrieved from http://0-web.ebscohost.com.topcat.switchinc.org/ehost/pdfviewer/pdfviewer?sid=64269d26-459f-4c0d-9546-c0c1ef045c0f%40sessionmgr4&vid=9&hid=28

Paulsson, D. S. (2011).A view of the holocaust.Retrieved November 2, 2013, from http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/worldwars/genocide/holocaust_overview_01.shtml

Veit, H. Z. (2012). Why do people die.Rising life expectancy, aging, and personal responsibility.Journal of Social History, 43, 1026-1048. doi: 10.1093/jsh/shr/155

Wang, H., Schumacher, A. E., & Murray, C. J. L.(2013).Left behind: Widening disparities for males and females in US county life expectancy, 1985-2010.Population Health Metrics, 11, 1-35.Retrieved from http://ct4ee9cj6g.search.serialssolutions.com/?genre=article&issn=14787954&title=Population+Health+Metrics&volume=11&issue=1&date=20130401&atitle=Left+behind%3a+widening+disparities+for+males+and+females+in+US+county+life+expectancy%2c+1985-2010.&spage=8&pages=8-22&sid=EBSCO:Academic+Search+Premier&aulast=Haidong+Wang