Death Waits for No One: Deferred demises take a couple of hits | Science News

MISSION CRITICAL

Support credible science journalism.

Subscribe to Science News today.


News

Death Waits for No One: Deferred demises take a couple of hits

By
9:44am, June 2, 2004

Two new reports challenge the idea, which has been promoted in a series of high-profile studies, that elderly people suffering from serious physical illnesses can prolong their lives just long enough to experience a personally meaningful event, such as a birthday or a religious holiday.

An analysis of California death records from 1985 through 2000, conducted by economist Gary Smith of Pomona College in Claremont, Calif., indicates that elderly Asian immigrants don't put off dying until the week after the Harvest Moon Festival, a major annual event for them. That result counters a 1990 study, based on California data from 1960 through 1984. The earlier investigation found that mortality rates of Chinese women at least 75 years of age dipped in the week before the Harvest Moon Festival and rose in the week after.

This article is available only to subscribing members. Join the Society today or Log in.

Get Science News headlines by e-mail.

More from Science News