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Human life expectancy tends to be given as a single number reflecting age at death from birth.

But life expectancy should really grow the longer you live, because, for example, once you hit your fifth birthday your chances of dying before age five drop to zero, so the contribution to the average life expectancy of all the people who died before age five shouldn't apply.

To put it another way, once you hit age ninety, your life expectancy calculated then and there should be at least ninety years even though that exceeds the life expectancy in every country on the planet, simply because you've clearly already made it that far.

Does life expectancy as a function of current age have a name, and what shape does this function typically take? Perhaps more interestingly, does this function take a significantly different shape in humans than in other animals (I'd expect infant mortality to significantly affect this for example)?

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I think you might be looking for period life tables

A period life table is based on the mortality experience of a population during a relatively short period of time. Here we present the 2014 period life table for the Social Security area population. For this table, the period life expectancy at a given age is the average remaining number of years expected prior to death for a person at that exact age, born on January 1, using the mortality rates for 2014 over the course of his or her remaining life.

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I read a paper once - but have not been able to find it since - that said that every (age) milestone in our life extends our life expectancy statistically and biologically. General life expectancy averages people who die of diseases that affect us at different ages: infant, child, young adults, middle-aged adults and the elderly. When you live beyond each phase in your life, you beat the statistics and at the same time show that your biological make-up has more resilience than those who succumbed during previous phases. Something that I just read reminded me of this and prompted this internet search. It said that though the average life expectancy in America is 78, when you hit your 70th birthday, you can - on average - expect to live 14 more years.

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  • $\begingroup$ Is this the article you are referring to? Relatively new, but it is similar to what you say. $\endgroup$ Commented Feb 24, 2023 at 15:59
  • $\begingroup$ That looks like the same information. I think I was reading something like a research report. I would guess that the article you linked was written from the paper I read. $\endgroup$
    – RockyCrest
    Commented Feb 24, 2023 at 20:03

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