Wheel of Fate

In many ways, your destiny was determined at birth. Factors like gender, race, birthdate, and hometown play a major role in determining your future. These can affect how long you’ll live, how you’ll die, and even how much money you’ll earn while you’re alive.

But what if the circumstances were altered? How would your life change if you were another gender or race, born in a different year, or lived in a different place? We’ve analyzed the odds and calculated the probability behind these factors. Explore the relationship between circumstances and fate – and spin the wheel of fate to glimpse your own destiny.

Find Your Fortune: Lifespan and Death Predictions

When will you die? And what will ultimately cause your death? Enter a few details, like your birthdate, gender, race, and location, and click submit to calculate your results. Not a big fan of your fate? Click submit again for a slightly different twist on your destiny. Are your results inevitable? Don’t bet your life on it.

Note: The interactive tool is for entertainment purposes only. Your personal details will not be collected, stored, or shared.

Average Lifespans of Americans

Average life expectancy differs greatly by age and gender. Overall, Hispanic people have the longest life expectancy, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. With an average life span of nearly 84 years, Hispanic women specifically live longer than any other portion of the U.S. population. White women live second-longest, averaging 81.3 years, and Hispanic men come third, with an average lifespan of 79 years.

Black women live slightly longer than white men (78.2 years compared with 76.6 years), but black men have the shortest life expectancy by far: 72.2 years. According to a CDC report, some of the racial gap in longevity can be attributed to higher death rates among black people due to specific factors, including heart disease, cancer, homicide, and diabetes.

Although CDC data do not include statistics about Asian-American life expectancy, data from the Social Science Research Council reveal that this population actually tops the chart. Asian-Americans have an average lifespan of 87.3 years – over three years longer than Hispanic women.

But this age- and gender-related data don’t necessarily seal your fate. Other factors can alter average life expectancy, such as educational attainment, marital status, job type, and access to health care. So you still have a chance to boost your odds of enjoying a long life.

How Americans Die at Every Age

Next, we examined how Americans are most likely to die. Breaking down the leading cause of death by age and gender illuminates some sobering insights. For the majority of races aged 15 to 34, the leading cause of death is accidents; however, for young black Americans, homicide is the top killer.

As Americans approach middle age, health conditions emerge as more likely killers than accidents. Of people aged 35 to 44, heart disease is the leading cause of death for black people and cancer is the top cause for white and Asian/Pacific Islander individuals. However, for American Indians, accidents remain the most common cause of death. From age 45 onward, death from cancer becomes the most common fate for Americans, followed by dying from heart disease.

Take A Spin: Randomized Fortune Teller

What if you were a different person? Would fate be on your side? Step right on up and spin the wheel to see how life would play out if you were born under different circumstances.

Mapping Unusual Ways to Die

Malnutrition. Boat and plane accidents. Death by law enforcement. It may sound macabre – but in many states, people have a comparatively higher tendency to die in specific and surprising ways. By examining the national rates of death and comparing those with causes of death in specific states, we get a pretty clear snapshot of which states experience higher death rates from certain causes.

In Nevada, Oregon, and New Mexico, dying at the hands of law enforcement is more common than in other states. Succumbing to black lung disease is comparatively likelier in Kentucky, West Virginia, and Pennsylvania. In Louisiana, syphilis kills at a surprisingly high rate; in Idaho and Alaska, boat and plane accidents cause more deaths than in other states. In Texas, people have heightened odds of dying from tuberculosis; and in North Carolina, malnutrition is a disproportionately deadly issue.

Mapping Number of Deaths

Life by its very nature is a gamble – but it turns out you can actually decrease your odds of dying by residing in certain states. Based on the number of deaths per 100,000 people, if you live in certain Southern states – Mississippi, West Virginia, Alabama, Kentucky, or Oklahoma – then your odds of dying are substantially higher. In Hawaii, you have the lowest likelihood of passing away; your odds of staying alive are also good in California, Connecticut, and Minnesota.

What makes the Aloha State a good bet? Hawaii has consistently ranked among the healthiest states – if not been named the healthiest – by America’s Health Rankings for its high ratings of mental health and low obesity rates. Hawaii also has the lowest gun death rate in the nation.

On the other hand, Southern states tend to dominate the list of least healthy states, based on factors such as high rates of smoking, physical inactivity, and obesity. Mississippi, home to the highest death rate, also experiences the country’s highest rates of preterm birth and low birthweight as well as higher-than-average rates of homicide, firearm deaths, and drug poisoning deaths.

Mapping Death Rates, by Race

Your odds of dying differ across the country depending on your race and ethnicity. If you’re white, your odds of cheating death are especially good in Hawaii, Minnesota, and Connecticut; markedly worse in West Virginia, Mississippi, and several other Southern States; and middling across much of the country.

If you’re black, South Dakota, Wyoming, and North Dakota are the place to be, followed by New Hampshire and Maine. However, much of the South and parts of the Upper Midwest have higher death rates.

For Asian people, much of the East Coast is ideal when it comes to avoiding death, as are parts of the Southwest (especially New Mexico). Utah has the highest rate of death.

Hispanic people may want to place their bets on the Southeast as a place to live, as the death rate in many of these states is markedly low. A few states in the Northeast, along with South Dakota, are also good options. The state where Hispanic people have the highest death rate? New Mexico.

Mapping Possible Earnings

Breaking down median income by age, gender, and race/ethnicity reveals just who’s hitting the jackpot at work. Asian men aged 35 to 44 are, by far, the biggest winners when it comes to income, averaging over $66,000 per year. In fact, up until age 54, Asian men rake in the most. However, by age 55, white men beat out Asian men as the highest average earners.

Although women live longer than men, the gender wage gap means women earn much less over a lifetime; this is true regardless of age, background, and educational attainment. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in median weekly earnings of men and women during 2015, men earned 19 percent more.

Indeed, as you can see on the above chart, women of all ages and races earn less than men overall save for a sole exception: Before age 45, Asian women average higher earnings than Hispanic or black men. What contributes to the wage gap? While factors such as job choice and parenting may affect the disparity, they do not entirely account for it.

You bet your life

Life is like a game of roulette, and the inevitability of death is the ultimate house advantage. You can’t control many of life’s circumstances – your age, gender, or race – so your best bet is to focus on factors you can control.

As our study reveals, certain parts of the country may be better or worse choices for you to live. (And you may want to be careful about certain activities when visiting certain states, based on higher-than-average death rates from unusual causes.)

You can also change certain habits: Focus on being a better driver to reduce accident risk, or improve your health by eating right, exercising, and quitting smoking. While certain aspects of your fate are predestined, you still have choices. So rather than betting on the odds – bet on yourself.


All life expectancy and cause-of-death data were taken from the CDC. Median income data were pulled from U.S. Census Bureau. For the most unique causes of death, we chose layman’s terms to describe the actual death classifications to make them more understandable. For the leading causes of death by race and age, we combined several age ranges and averaged the percentage of deaths to come up with the values.

For the Wheel of Fate interactive, we used CDC death probability data to determine when a person will die. We used a probability algorithm to give randomized results when you spin. Causes of death for the Wheel of Fate interactive are determined by the top 15 leading causes of death, based on the percentage of deaths by race, age, and gender. Life expectancy data are related to race and geographic location.


Fair Use

Feel free to share the images found on this page freely. When doing so, please attribute the authors by providing a link back to this page, so your readers can learn more about this project and the related research.


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