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Month of birth and life expectancy: role of gender and age in a comparative approach


The effects of month of birth (MOB) on life expectancy of a German subpopulation was investigated. Data from people who died in North Rhine Westphalia in the years 1984 (n=188,515) and 1999 (n=188,850) were analyzed. For comparative purposes, all deaths that occurred at an age of <50 years were excluded (1984: 8.4%; 1999: 6.2%). In general, individuals born in May through July had the lowest age at death (1984: 75.27±0.09 years; 1999: 77.58±0.09 years), while those born between October and December had the highest (1984: 75.98±0.08 years; 1999: 78.35±0.09 years), supporting earlier findings. The observed amplitudes (differences between highest and lowest values) were more pronounced in men than in women. When comparing these data of MOB effects on life expectancy with earlier findings in Australia, Austria, Denmark, Ukraine, and the USA, it is evident that a negative correlation exists between the average age at death and the MOB amplitudes. Separate analyses by gender, possible for the data from Germany, the Ukraine, and the USA, revealed a significant negative correlation for men, but not for women. A new hypothesis is therefore presented describing an influence of life quality, as reflected by average life expectancy, on the extent of MOB effects; for example, seasonally variable sensitivities during pregnancy/early childhood.

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I am grateful to Dr. A. M. Vaiserman, Institute of Gerontology AMSU, Kiev, Ukraine, for providing data for the Kiev population and helpful comments. I thank Mr. Manfred Biemer from the Landesamt für Datenverarbeitung und Statistik Nordrhein-Westfalen, Düsseldorf, for technical help, and Margaret Parks, MLS, and Dr. Angela M. Sommer, both of IUB, for reading and critical comments.

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Correspondence to Alexander Lerchl.

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Lerchl, A. Month of birth and life expectancy: role of gender and age in a comparative approach. Naturwissenschaften 91, 422–425 (2004).

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  • Life Expectancy
  • Early Childhood
  • Significant Negative Correlation
  • Industrialize Nation
  • General Life