Letter: A long life in Victorian times

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The Independent Online
A long life in Victorian times

Sir: David Miles ("As people live longer let them work longer", 18 August) uses the fact that in 1847 male life expectancy at birth was only 41 years to deduce that "the average boy" would have a working life of 30 years from age 11 to death.

I have no idea what life expectancy was then at age 10, 20 or 30, but high infant and childhood mortality were in a large part responsible for the low average life expectancy at birth.

Life expectancy at birth tells you very little about the typical age of death, especially for those who made it into their teens. David Miles is in danger of perpetuating the myth that in past centuries society was full of ancient 30-year-olds waiting for death.

TERRY MARSHALL

Norwich

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