Demographers often refer to the hazard function as the “age specific mortality rate,” or death rate. Until recently most researchers in the field of gerontology thought that a death rate increasing with age was a universal fact in the biological world. There has been heavy debate over whether there is a genetically programmed upper limit to lifespan. Using a facility in which sterilized medflies are bred to be released to fight medfly infestations in California, James Carey and co-workers (Carey et al. 1992) bred more than a million of medflies and recorded their pattern of mortality. The following table gives the number of medflies alive from an initial population of 1,203,646 as a function of age in days. Using these data, estimate and plot the age specific mortality rate. Does it increase with age?

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