The Life Expectancy of Musicians

The Washington Post “Wonkblog” recently displayed the following life expectancy graph:

life expectancy

Those life expectancies are at African levels. Sex, drugs, and rock and roll, stay away kids! But then I remembered Lion’s rule of thumb:

If something sounds too unbelievable to be true, then it’s probably because it’s not true. Even if it’s printed in the mainstream media.

The source of the graph is psychology professor Dianna Theadora Kenny. Kenny calculated “longevity” by making a list of all the musicians who died and then “calculating the average age of death for each musician by sex and decade of death.” This would only provide an accurate life expectancy if there were the same number of musicians who are in all age groups, which there (obviously) are not. Kenny made no attempt to count the number of 28 year old musicians who didn’t die, which is what you would need to accurately calculate the life expectancy of musicians as a group.


Christopher Ingraham, It’s not just Prince: An uncanny number of pop stars die in their mid-50s, Washington Post, April 21 2016

Dianna Theadora Kenny, Stairway to hell: life and death in the pop music industry, The Conversation, October 26 2014

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2 Responses to The Life Expectancy of Musicians

  1. jamienyc says:

    Great catch man!


  2. Steve Sailer says:

    One way to do it would be too look at all the (unpaid) obituaries in the New York Times and calculate death by type of prominent person.

    I’ve informally done that just scanning the headlines over the years:


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