Why You Are More Likely To Die On Your Birthday

by : Emily Brown on : 19 Jun 2021 18:44
Why You Are More Likely To Die On Your BirthdayPA Images

As long as you’re able to ignore all the reminders that you’re getting older each time, birthdays are typically happy occasions filled with presents, cake and the celebration of another year of life. 

For these reasons many people tend to look forward to their birthdays, but, as it turns out, we should actually probably focus a bit more on savouring all the days running up to them instead.


This is because, statistically speaking, there is actually a greater chance you might die on or around your birthday.

Cupcakes with candles (Pixabay)Pixabay

There isn’t a great deal known about the phenomenon, which is known as ‘the birthday effect,’ but studies have revealed there is a noteworthy pattern when it comes to people dying on their birthdays.

For example, a 2012 Swiss study cited by Insider found 13.8% more people over the age of 60 died on their own birthday than on another day, while another study looking at the records of nearly three million Californians who died between 1969 and 1990 found mortality peaked close to people’s birthdays.


Scientists have not been able to come up with one clear reason as to why these days of celebration might turn into ones of sorrow, but there are four main theories that might explain the phenomenon.

The first is external causes, which takes into account the fact that if you are under 40 years old, a cause of death is most likely to be from an accident, Insider reports. As people tend to celebrate birthdays with alcohol, they could find themselves the victim of a fatal accident related to situations such as drunk driving or alcohol poisoning.

Another theory is that people may die on their birthday due to psychological reasons, for example with someone who is terminally ill using a birthday as a goal, or from knock-on effects of the stress of being reminded that life does not last forever.

Person blowing out birthday candles (Pixabay)Pixabay

The third theory relates to physiological reasons, and notes that our bodies all run on internal clocks which are set roughly to a 24-hour cycle, as well as a circannual biological rhythm for the whole year. Some scientists have suggested that around the date we were born, our bodies may trigger stress and eventually death.

Finally, the reason more people appear to die around their birthdays may actually be down to clerical errors, in which death dates have been confused with birth dates, resulting in inaccurate documents that have skewed results.

Whatever the reason for the phenomenon, it’s a good reminder to live every day to the full.


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Emily Brown

Emily Brown first began delivering important news stories aged just 13, when she launched her career with a paper round. She graduated with a BA Hons in English Language in the Media from Lancaster University, and went on to become a freelance writer and blogger. Emily contributed to The Sunday Times Travel Magazine and Student Problems before becoming a journalist at UNILAD, where she works on breaking news as well as longer form features.

Topics: Life, birthday, Celebration, Death, Now


  1. Insider

    You're statistically more likely to die on your birthday — here are 4 possible reasons why