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I recently read this article and although majority of the items are believable, #5 is really shocking.

Is it true that there are more than 50,000 alive people in Japan already over 100?

  • 2
    The higher life expectancy includes the 100+ people, so not really a sanity check. ;) – user22077 Sep 8 '14 at 19:03
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    The people in the 100+ range are such a tiny fraction of the elderly that it has only a trivial impact on the life expectancy. – Mark Sep 8 '14 at 19:39
  • But the ones below 100 would have a cheated bias too if that were the usual practice in that country. They are not doing it for the 100+ but for the money. – user22077 Sep 8 '14 at 19:48
  • @Mark, can't comment on the other threads, so mentioning here that the cheating can follow a gaussian distribution too, so you won't neccessarily see it. The question is, if there are more than 50k people 100+, this seems to depend on the grade of cheating which imo cannot be infered from public sources. – user22077 Sep 8 '14 at 20:33
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    According to Wikipedia, Japan has 43 centenarians per 100,000 people. The next highest ratio is South Korea at 29. Now, Japan has one of the oldest populations on Earth, so it certainly is possible. But it's still quite an outlier. – Jon Ericson Sep 9 '14 at 19:04
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According to the Japanese Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare, yes. As of September 15, 2013, they reported that there were 54,397 persons over the age of 100.

Though they have previously had issues with their records, recording as alive persons that had actually died years before, such as the case of Sogen Kato, who was on their records as being alive for 30 years after his death.

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    @avalancha Considering there is huge financial incentive not to report a death if you don't have to, I wouldn't be surprised if the error was that large in countries that rely on self-reporting of families of the deceased. – Chuu Sep 8 '14 at 16:11
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    @avalancha Seems like it's a problem for them right now, family keeping dead people just to cash their pension. nytimes.com/2010/08/15/world/asia/15japan.html?_r=0 – the_lotus Sep 8 '14 at 18:03
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    As a sanity check on Compro01's numbers, the US has 232 centenarians per million people. Translate that to Japan's 126 million people, and you get about 29k centenarians in Japan. Factor in Japan's 84.6-year life expectancy as opposed to the US's 79.8 (with a roughly normal distribution, a slight shift in the mean makes for a huge change at the edges), and 50k people over the age of 100 is not an unreasonable number. – Mark Sep 8 '14 at 18:40
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    @Mark Your sanity check says that the number of centenarians in Japan is consistent with the stated life expectancy. But both of those figures could be the result of under-reporting of the deaths of old people. – David Richerby Sep 8 '14 at 19:12
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    @DavidRicherby, My point was to demonstrate that 50k isn't an unreasonable number. My extrapolation from US statistics was off by less than a factor of two from the official Japanese statistics, indicating that those statistics are probably fairly accurate. There are other ways of cross-checking the numbers (eg. shape of the demographic pyramid, or a disparity between deaths at 99 and at 100), but I don't have the data to perform them. – Mark Sep 8 '14 at 19:48

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