By Haddon Libby

“The mark of a truly intelligent person is to be moved by statistics,” said George Bernard Shaw.   Vin Scully had a different take on statistics when he said, “Statistics are used much like a drunk uses a lamppost; for support, not illumination.”

However you want to look at it, all 321,729,000 of us here in the third most populous country in the world and most populous state in the country like our statistics whether they be informative, fun or misleading.

Unless Donald Trump becomes President, our population will grow to 417 million people within forty-five years despite a fertility rate (1.86 children per woman) that is below the population replacement rate of 2.1 due to our immigration rate.


Here in the United States, we have 7.2 million more women than men.  Our nation’s median age is 37 years.  This means that half of our population is older and half is younger.  People under 20 years of age make up 27% of the population and 13% are over 65 years of age.  Current life expectancy in the United States is 79 years.

Overall, approximately 2.6 million Americans die each year and split equally between men and women.  Heart disease is the leading killer and represents 25% of all deaths annually.  Cancers represent 23% of deaths annually.

A report from the President’s Cancer Panel states that 41% of us will have cancer at some point in our lives with about 50% dying from the disease.  At present, approximately 14 million or 4.35% of all Americans have cancer.

Looking at types of cancer, 14% of all men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer at some point.    Currently 2.8 million American men have the disease with only 15% expected to have fatal outcomes.  When it comes to breast cancer, 13% of women get it with 3 million currently suffering from the disease.  Only 17% of these women will have a fatal outcome.

As for less common life enders, 1 in 5,000 will die in a car crash while 1 in 25 million will die in a plane crash.  You are more than ten times more likely to die by falling out of your bed, being struck by lightning or being killed in a tornado than a plane crash.

Approximately 2,500 left-handed Americans die each year because they used a product made for a right hander.

When it comes to higher education, 66% of all high school graduates go to college yet only 60% of college students graduate within six years of enrollment.  Overall, just 30% of Americans have a college degree.  The average graduate carries $27,000 of debt, more than twice the level of 1995 graduates.

Meanwhile, half of all Americans are low income or living in poverty – a stunning statistic considering that we are the wealthiest country in the world.

Looking globally, there are approximately 7.2 billion people in the world of which only four will live beyond 116 years of age.  At any point in the day, 7% of the world or 500 million people are drunk.

Here in the United States, the average person consumes 600 sodas a year.  When you multiply 600 sodas by 321 million people, that is an awful lot of Coca-Colas…which reminds me…Coca-Cola is green until they add coloring agents.

Thinking of big numbers, the speed of light is about 671 million miles an hour.  This means that light can travel from the moon to Earth in two seconds.  Conversely, scientists have found that the speed of light can be slowed to as low as 38 miles per hour by packing lots of atoms into a small, super cold space.  The value of this discovery is that we may be able to transmit more data using one millionth of the power currently required for transmission.

As you can hopefully see, statistics are a great way to remember important and not so important things in a world where our minds become cluttered from an overload of stimuli and information.

Haddon Libby is Managing Partner of Winslow Drake, an investment advisory firm and can be reached at