STUMP » Articles » Mortality with Meep: No, Safety Officers Don't Die Younger than All Other Workers » 3 January 2020, 06:29

Where Stu & MP spout off about everything.

Mortality with Meep: No, Safety Officers Don't Die Younger than All Other Workers  


3 January 2020, 06:29

They do have life expectancies lower than teachers, though.

In this piece, a retired correctional officer argues that Illinois safety officers should be allowed to retire at age 50.

Here is part of the argument:

Research has shown that the life expectancy of individuals working in these fields are lower than the national average due to the stressful and dangerous nature of work they perform. The negative health and emotional effects that can result in working in such an environment over the course of a career cannot be ignored. Thus, the option to retire at an earlier age is an important benefit.

I will address the dangerousness of the work in a moment (in terms of on-the-job deaths or injuries)

Let me first remark on life expectancy stats.

Because the Society of Actuaries has done that research.

Let us look at life expectancy from age 25 first.

UPDATE: I have replaced the graphs in the below plots. Explanation of the changes I made, and why.


First, I want to note that these bubbles look like they’ve all been placed by hand, because you need to actually look at the numbers to make the comparisons, and not where the bubbles are places. Ugh. I’m going to redo this graph. I’m dumping the life expectancies from life insurance, because that’s just not a fair comparison.

Comparisons to note: safety officers are more short-lived than teachers. But there’s not much of a difference in their life expectancies compared to the general government employees (not all of whom are white collar workers… but many of them are.)

But safety officers have longer life expectancies than those in private pensions, and the general U.S. population. It is not fair to compare against the general population, though. The general population include people so disabled that they’ve never worked.

I will note that the closest population (you have to look to the side in the original graph) is the white-collar private pension population.

Mind you, these are all projections based on prior experience studies — they are basing it on mortality trends for those groups as well as historical experience of life expectancy. These are projected for people who were age 25 in 2019 using mortality projection scales. So it’s partly hypothetical, but pretty much all based on real experience studies, projecting current trends.

In short, the longevity for public safety officers is not actually too different from private pension white collar workers or from non-teacher government employees. But that’s from age 25, at the start of a career. What about at what is considered normal retirement age for many people — age 65?



My fix:

So the rank ordering is about the same, and yowza, aren’t those female teachers long-lived. Oh right, I noted that before, using calendar year tables, and not including mortality improvement trends.

I will note that the expected age at death is a little lower here … which one would consider unusual for one person’s life, but it’s not unusual when you consider that the 25-year-old gets 40 years’ worth of mortality improvement baked into the projections. (yes, that’s all technical speak)

So guys, no, safety officer life expectancy is not so much lower to support retiring at age 50, fifteen years than most other American get to do. Age 55 is pretty young to be retiring for anybody but in something really strenuous and dangerous, like logging.

But let’s look at that below.


That said, being a police officer is still one of the more dangerous jobs in terms of both injury and death. It’s number 14 in this list of 25.

That would argue for disability pensions and providing life insurance coverage.

Not necessarily allowing retirement at a very young age.

But I do want to point out the stress factor, though.

The cause of the injuries for most of the top 25 most dangerous jobs are truly accidental causes: a fall from a ladder or being struck by an object. Or it’s just that it’s a strenuous job — some are injuries from overexertion and bodily reaction.

Here is the info for police officers:

14. Police and sheriff’s patrol officers
Fatal injuries in 2016: 14.6 per 100,000 workers
Total: 108 fatal injuries, 28,740 nonfatal injuries
Most common accident: Intentional injury by other person

Part of why it’s so stressful is that they’re attacked by people… and can get in trouble in various ways if they react badly to that.

If you’re a roofer and accidentally staplegun your leg… you can throw that staplegun (I don’t recommend) or curse it out or whatever, and you’re just fine. (Note: roofer occupational death rate was 48.6 per 100,000 workers in 2016, or over three times higher rate than police officers)

The most deadly occupation for occupational death rates is loggers in that list (135.9 per 100,000 workers – over 9 times the rate of police officers).

One thing to note are the rate of nonfatal injuries compared to fatal injuries… what I mean is that the most dangerous jobs, like logging, have a nasty ratio in that of the injuries in 2016, 9% of them were fatal for loggers. That’s really high. Some of these jobs, if you have an accident, you are far more likely to end up dead due to that accident compared to other jobs.

For cops, only 0.4% of the injuries were fatal.

So that gives you an idea of the relative dangerousness. The injury rate is higher for cops — about 3900 per 100,000 workers. For loggers, the injury rate overall is about 1300 per 100,000 workers.

In any case, no, police officers do not really die noticeably younger than most Americans. They do die younger than teachers (as a group).

But then, so does everybody (except for teachers), pretty much.

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