Cumberland Times-News

April 20, 2014

Odds are good that you didn’t know this

Bob Doyle, Columnist
Cumberland Times-News

Odds or Probabilities fascinate many people. There is a special website called and an accompanying location on Facebook at /BookofOdds .This website lists 400,000 odds. Three of the people who are involved in this media display have coauthored a book, “The Book of Odds” that presents some of key odds, drawing from polls and statistics published in journals. The authors are A. Shapiro, L.F. Campbell and R. Wright. This paperback was published this year by Harper Collins with ISBN 978-0-06-206085-3.

Skipping the first few sections on dating, marriage and related behavior, I came to the odds on life expectancy. What are your odds of living to 100?

If you are 21 years old, your odds of making the century mark are 1 in 56.8. At age 35, the odds that you will live to be 100 (a centenarian) are 1 in 56. At 50 years old, your odds are 1 in 50. At age 70, living 30 more years have odds of 1 in 44.2. At age 90, the odds are 1 in 31.2.

These odds combine data from both men and women. Comparing the sexes, at age 40, a woman’s life expectancy is 11 percent higher than a man’s. At age 80, a woman’s life expectancy is 19 percent more than a man’s. Of 100,000 women, 2,460 will live to be 100 compared to 850 men (out of 100,000 men).

Another interesting area are birth streaks, where a woman gives birth to just boys or girls. The odds a woman’s first two babies will be boys are 1 in 3.8.

For the first three babies to be boys, odds are 1 in 7.5. For four straight baby boys, the odds are 1 in 14.6.

Consider just baby girls; The odds a woman’s first two babies will be girls are 1 in 4.2. For a woman’s first three babies will be girls are 1 in 8.6. For four straight baby girls, the odds are 1 in 17.6.

My sister had just three girls, all turned out fine. Now her oldest girl has already had three girls of her own and will have fourth baby late this year.

As for given names, the odds change from decade to decade. In 1950, (the year closest to my birth), the odds of a baby being named Robert (my name) was 1 in 21.8. My sister who was born a little after 1950 was named Carol, with odds of 1 in 67.2.

By 2009 many more names being used, so the odds for each name have dropped considerably. The most popular male name is Daniel at 1 to 121. The most popular female name is Emma at 1 to 113.

The odds to be a left handed male are 1 in 7.7. The female left handed have odds of 1 to 12.4. For males, this can be expressed as 1/7.7 = 13 percent of males are “lefties” while 1/12.4 = 8 percent of females are left handed.

Some may remember in the 2008 presidential election that the nominees of the two major parties were both left handed.

As for allergies, the odds that a child under 3 is allergic are: to milk, 1 in 40, to eggs, 1 in 76.9, and to peanuts 1 in 125 The odds that a student will drop out before high school graduation by state are: Louisiana 1 to 13.3, Colorado 1 to 15.6, Michigan 1 to 16.1, Washington 1 to 17.5 and District of Columbia 1 to 18.2. The lowest odds for dropouts are: New Jersey 1 to 58.8 and Idaho 1 to 50.

SKY SIGHTS AHEAD: The moon is now rising after midnight, appearing half full this Wednesday in the southern dawn. Mars is still very bright in the southeastern evening sky; Mars has a steady orange glow.

Even brighter than Mars is the planet Jupiter, appearing high in the western evening sky. The third planet in the evening sky is Saturn, appearing to the left of Mars in the late evening sky.

Venus is the brilliant morning planet in the eastern dawn. All these planets shine steadily.

Bob Doyle invites any readers comments and questions. E-mail him at . He is available as a speaker on his column topics.