NEWS

Leave Voters Dead: Have 120,000 Brexiteers Really Died Since June?

Tl;dr, it's not quite as simple as has been reported.

09/12/2016 16:31 | Updated 09 December 2016
Neil Hall / Reuters

An architect’s claim that 120,000 Leave voters have died since June’s EU referendum has been reported by media this week.

Steve Lawrence tweeted his analysis of Eurostat population data and the latest British Election Study to claim deaths, together with voters who’ve changed their mind or come of age, would now tip the balance in favour of Remain.

His tweet had been shared 1,700 times by Friday, with the theory inspiring reports on the Indy100 and Short List.

As he explains, the data comes from Eurostat, which looks at births and deaths, and the British Election Study, which examined people who have changed their views. And he combined these data with statistics from other sources.

But the topic isn’t clear cut and Lawrence’s theory isn’t watertight, as astute Redditors have discussed:

1. The theory assumes likelihood of death is based on age alone.

As user lionmoose points out, the premise of Lawrence’s analysis that 120,000 Leave voters have died is perhaps too simplistic.

That’s because age alone cannot be a trusted sole predictor of death.

Reddit

What’s more, Lawrence’s theory is based on assumptions around age made with data from surveys of 382 voting areas in the UK. There are 533 constituencies in Britain.

2. Actions cause more regret in the short term 

As drukath points out, the winning side in a referendum is more likely to display regret than the losing side - and academic research has found actions cause more regret in the short term, such as the six months following the vote.

And there’s a difference between regret and changing your mind 

Reddit

3. Can we trust what the pollsters tell us?

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