An 86-year-old woman in Japan has been arrested for collecting her dead parents’ pension for 50 years.
Mitsue Suzuki may have fraudulently claimed as much as 50million yen, the equivalent of £260,000, since the death of her parents in the 1960s.
The elderly woman was caught when a pension agency official wrote to the local authority where she lives in Ena, Gifu Prefecture, to check on the health of her mother and father who would be 110 and 112 if still alive.
Our statistics on lifespan come from the same sources as the ones that show who is getting a pension. Because, obviously, the pension won’t be paid if there’s a valid death certificate around but it’s death certificates we use to measure lifespan.
This problem has been noted in Japan before and I cannot for the life of me remember whether the researchers thought that this sort of lying was prevalent enough to sway average lifespans or not.
This also influences my view of things like Cuba’s “health care miracle”. The numbers are all compiled by the Cuban government before being handed on to WHO etc. And who is going to trust the numbers from a communist dictatorship on the success of their flagship policy? Myself, I think they’ve been lying through their teeth for decades but have no way of proving it nor even of testing it (believe me, my statistical chops are not good enough to be able to test the data for Benford’s Law and the like).
But I do think that we’ll see something interesting when communism finally collapses in Cuba. I think we’ll see a shortening of reported life spans. But it won’t be because lifespans shorten, but because they’ve been lying all these years.