News | June 2, 2017

Puzzling mortality

The probability of not reaching the next year of life is not the same at every moment of life. MPIDR-scientist Marcus Ebeling provides likely reasons for varying values ​​in different age groups at Rostock’s Eleven, which takes place on June 9, 2017.

At some point in life, every human has to die. But the chance of not surviving to the next year of one’s life is not the same at every moment in life. For example, it is relatively high shortly after birth and no longer increases after age 110. From then on, the probability of living to the next year is 50 percent. MPIDR-scientist Marcus Ebeling investigates why this is so and looks at the reasons behind the varying values ​​in the different age groups. In his doctoral thesis, he looked at a special age group: children aged 8 to 12. This group always had the fewest deaths. And today, it shows record values, with  almost no child dying at these ages in some industrialized countries, according to the results of his doctoral thesis. The results are very pleasing. They are also scientifically interesting because a whole series of other scientific questions can be derived from such extremes, such as questions about the limits and reasons behind the minimal mortality. Is medical progress the reason? These extremes also raise questions of an almost philosophical nature, such as: Can the lower limit of mortality be extended as such or even extended to other stages of the lifespan? Would such development be desirable at all? And would one day fortune and misfortune rather than biology determine when we die? 

About Rostock's Eleven

Rostock's Eleven is a joint initiative of all research institutions in Rostock: Eleven young scientists from eleven research institutes in Rostock present the results of their research to young scientific journalists from all over Germany. At the close of the event, the best presentation will receive a prize.