September 11, 2010
Centenarians Overcounted In Japan

While Japan has official life expectancies of 86.4 years for women and 79.6 years for men the number of old aged is over-counted due to a combination of poor record keeping and pension fraud.

After its survey of family registration records nationwide, the ministry found that 234,354 centenarians were listed as alive, but no one seemed to know where they were, according to the Associated Press.

So perhaps the Japanese aren't so healthy after all.

Share |      Randall Parker, 2010 September 11 07:36 AM  Aging Studies

john personna said at September 11, 2010 8:03 AM:

That, is crazy.

kurt9 said at September 11, 2010 10:42 AM:

Japanese people smoke a lot. They also drink a lot as well. They do live longer than Westerner, on average, partly because the Japanese diet is usually (not always) better than American diet (they do not get fat) and they tend to walk a lot more than Westerners. Most people living in the Tokyo area do not own cars because it is expensive and inconvenient to drive. So, they walk or ride a bike to the nearest train station, then stand on the platform until the train comes.

PacRim Jim said at September 11, 2010 11:58 AM:

A person who had been dead decades was found recently in Japan. His family had been collecting his government checks and didn't want it to end. For that reason, some of the Japanese on that list were supposedly over 150 years old.

Fat Man said at September 11, 2010 12:11 PM:

Pension Fraud. Say no more.

Sione said at September 11, 2010 12:50 PM:

It's geriatric inflation!

Seriously, are there any government sourced data sets that can be relied on? Why so corrupt?


JAY said at September 11, 2010 5:23 PM:

You get what you subsidize. Kinda like global warming alarmists.

Joseph Dart said at September 11, 2010 8:39 PM:

Men over 98 or women over 103 are excluded from Japan's official longevity statistics.

john personna said at September 12, 2010 12:13 PM:

Jay, I heard Bjørn Lomborg is flipping. Do the deniers have any intellectual foundation at this point?

Randall Parker said at September 12, 2010 1:02 PM:

john personna,

In his forthcoming Smart Solutions to Climate Change: Comparing Costs and Benefits Lomborg argues for climate engineering to deal with global warming. He says it is a real problem.

My only reservation: Will more CO2 in the oceans cause problems that require we reduce atmospheric CO2? If so, the only alternative to reduced CO2 emissions would probably be biochar on a massive scale. But if a slight shift toward acidic in the oceans is not a problem then we have lots of ways to do climate engineering.

Tom said at September 12, 2010 9:32 PM:

While living in Japan I read a newspaper article on Japanese longevity. They gave the number of centenarians. I then checked the number for the US and found that we have double the number PER CAPITA of centenarians than Japan. I thought that was weird, since the Japanese are said to live longer than Americans. This was in the 1990s.

john personna said at September 13, 2010 6:44 AM:

Randall, I've come to two conclusions (1) that global warming is true, and (2) that it is beyond the human capacity for forward-action.

Oh, we're willing to talk about it (a lot!) but that's about it. This is especially true if you include "China" as part of "us."

Dana H. said at September 13, 2010 11:25 AM:

"They do live longer than Westerner, on average..."

How can you know this, given the emerging evidence that the longevity data are bogus?

BlogDog said at September 13, 2010 11:36 AM:

It's the Rake Woebegone Japanese who all live lives longer than average...

Jeff said at September 13, 2010 11:36 AM:

apparently Japan has over 800 people who are listed as being over 150 years old ...

Celebrim said at September 13, 2010 11:40 AM:

This is one of the reasons I don't take much stock in the claims that people in the United States live shorter lives than those in other developed countries. The problem is that if the difference exists even after you account for life style factors (like wealth or education), then you have to really go back and take a close look at your data collection methodology. As one small example of the problem, in the United States, if a baby dies during the child birth, it is entered into our database from which we compute life expectancy as a 0. In many European countries, the baby is counted as stillborn and stillborn babies are not registered with either birth or death certificate records. These differences in practices don't explain the entire problem, but together with evidence of pension fraud and others it does explain at least some of the difference.

Dave Schuler said at September 13, 2010 11:48 AM:

I think it's worth recalling that, in the period when these centenarians were supposed to have been born, Japan had been a feudal society within living memory, illiteracy was commonplace, and record-keeping was not necessarily reliable. As a confucian society age was respected and mostly we're just taking their word for it that these people are the age they claim.

shannonlove said at September 13, 2010 12:29 PM:

IIRC, Japanese-Americans live longer than Americans of non-Japanese descent. Genetics is the single greatest influence on longevity. Japan's traditional social structure, in which the elderly micromanaged the lives of an extended family, may have bred them for longevity.

Curt said at September 13, 2010 12:52 PM:

Shannon -- I have also read that Japanese-Americans live longer than Japanese in Japan. The same source said that this was true for every other identifiable ethnic group in the US, that they lived longer in the US than in the "old country".

Dave -- I also expect that huge fractions of the records from 100 years ago were wiped out in 20th-century earthquakes and the WW2 bombing raids.

K said at September 13, 2010 1:08 PM:

This would be funny if it weren't for the many epidemiological studies influenced by such fraudulent statistics.

"You mean they had no deep fat, hot fudge?"
"These substances were thought to be unhealthy, exactly the opposite of what we now know".

Richao said at September 13, 2010 1:57 PM:

My wife and I have had many laughs over this whole episode, which started when the Tokyo metropolitan government discovered that the oldest man in Tokyo was actually a mummified corpse who had locked himself in a room in a house occupied by children and grandchildren back in 1978. That said, we follow the Japanese media fairly closely (she's Japanese, and I lived there for years), and the government body responsible for longevity statistics says this discovery will have no effect on longevity statistics, as they do not include individuals who live beyond, I think, 98 in their calculations, as they consider these to be statistical outliers in any event. This was disappointing news, as I envisioned making millions with my Japanese-language book about the longevity benefits of the Omaha diet, consisting entirely of steak and cheetos...

PTL said at September 13, 2010 3:25 PM:

Figures lie. Liars Figure. Lies. Damn lies. Statistics. Biggest liars are the politicians and their bureaucracies so as to make themselves
look good. Check the latest CBO numbers. They change them at the whim of the President and Congress.

Bruce said at September 16, 2010 2:05 PM:

"the government body responsible for longevity statistics says this discovery will have no effect on longevity statistics, as they do not include individuals who live beyond, I think, 98 in their calculations"

Depending on when the pensionable age starts, how does anyone know that anyone above that age is alive considering the number of dead over-98's? My understanding is that pensions get deposited in people bank accounts. How many children of dead 65-98 year olds are collecting pensions or paying their rent with dead granma's pension deposit?

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