Monday, September 16, 2013

Northwestern Mutual's "The Longevity Game"

I guess "The Longevity Game" sounds better than The Death Calculator. Which is what Northwestern Mutual has created and shared with us. Essentially, you answer questions about yourself (weight, exercise, stress management, driving habits, drug and alcohol habits, etc.) and the Game will give you an estimation for how long you should live based on the data you provide.

The Longevity Game, from Northwestern Mutual

I use this in class to demonstrate how data and statistics influence certain aspects of our lives (like whether or not an insurer is willing to provide us with insurance coverage). This can also be used to introduce multiple regression, since multiple factors are taken into account when predicting the outcome measure of life expectancy.

I also make sure to emphasize to my students that this calculator was created by an insurance company that was founded in 1857 and that this calculator isn't just some random interwebz quiz.

Warning: I wouldn't ask students to discuss their personal life expectancy (as it deals with their weight, ability to handle stress, alcohol and drug abuse, and other personal things) but I do think it is safe to ask them about which measured variable were surprising (seat belt usage is usually one that is surprising).