This study tests the hypothesis that the average police officer has a life expectancy of 12 years less than that of other people and dies within 5 years after retirement.
To test the hypothesis, a comparison was made between 732 Illinois State police retirees and the actuarial tables used for retired Illinois State employees. The study focused on officers retired between 1957 and 1986. The age of the officers at retirement ranged from 45 to 73, with the average being 55 years old. They had served on the force for an average of 26.4 years. Findings indicate that more than 89 percent remain alive. When compared to the 1986 Projected Experience Table (annuity) for males, the 732 Illinois State police retirees show they had an above normal life expectancy with a chi square of 1.3 (one degree of freedom). This difference was not significant. When the data were restricted to officers age 55 and older at retirement, the life expectancy was significantly longer. There were 727 officers in this sample. Evidence suggests that police are living longer, not shorter, than the population as a whole. Information from Arizona, Kentucky, and Ohio State patrols show life expectancies similar to those for Illinois State Police retires. The only exception is the Ontario Provincial Police, whose deaths appear to occur at an earlier age than normal. 5 tables and 15 notes.
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