Which is correct?

In the 20th century people were expected to live for several decades, but in the 18th century they (could die / could have died) at a much younger age.

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  • 1 month ago
    Favorite Answer

    I believe "could have died" is the most appropriate choice.  You could also avoid that entirely by saying:

    "In the 20th century people were expected to live for several decades, but in the 18th century, many died at a much younger age."

    Fact check:

    Worldwide life expectancy had remained level at about 25-35 yrs. until the mid 1800's. From that point on, especially in the US and Europe, it began a steady rise.  In 1900, the average lifespan in the US was around 50 yrs. Today, it's in the high 70's or low 80's.

    Averages don't tell the whole story.  Recently, I've spent a lot of time searching my genealogy.  I've also walked around several old graveyards from the 1600's - 1800's. One remarkable thing was how many children were buried there.  Back then, kids died from all sorts of diseases that we get vaccinations for. My observation is that if somebody survived childhood, they had a good chance of living to a ripe old age. A few exceptions: accidents, infection (no anti-biotics), and childbirth. In light of that, I might write your sentence differently.

    "Until the mid 19th century, average life expectancy had remained steady at several decades.  From that point onward, life expectancy has been rising steadily." 

    • San1 month agoReport

      Thanks!

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  • RP
    Lv 7
    1 month ago

    Could have died is preferred.

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