Demography denied: a ruling against science

The decision by the European Court on Human Rights that insurers cannot offer differential premiums to men and women is anti-science.
Since John Graunt’s 17th century London Bills of Mortality* and the Registrar General’s returns from 1836, demographers have compared international life-tables for men and women to identify age-specific hazards that differ quintessentially, and more importantly modifiably, between men and women.
Denying that young men have a higher risk of dying in road traffic accidents may mean that we let up on trying to reduce that risk. Indeed, higher car insurance premiums for young men may have helped to delay car ownership for many until they are past their most dangerous years. When I passed my driving test at 17, my father wisely informed me that I was now qualified to drive anyone’s car BUT his. I had to wait another year before I could afford to purchase and insure my own banger (an olive green mini) – I have a lot to thank a wise father for.
There are doubtless ways to get around the ruling without breaking the law. David Spiegelhalter offered a few in his piece in The Times last week. “Car insurance? How big are your feet?” offered some witty proxies for gender, such as shoe-size or just how many pairs of shoes you own. As a size 3 shoe fetishist that one would certainly identify me.
But such contortions shouldn’t be needed. Will Europe’s Registrars General please strenuously exert themselves to ensure that the European Court on Human Rights makes no more assaults on the basics of demography – place, sex and age - by which, both historically and currently, major risks to public health have been surveyed.
This is not a matter of profit but fairness and equity – and so that such risks may be redressed. Our success in reducing them is monitored by the same arithmetical demography as revealed them in the first place. In many developing countries, shoes are a luxury and the survival of female versus male children less equitably assured than in Europe. Demography reveals the perils to be countered . . .
Insurance companies’ differential premiums are based on evidence about quantified risks, not prejudice. Denial of well-quantified, fatal evidence is scientifically unjust.
*John Graunt (24 April 1620 – 18 April 1674) was one of the first demographers, though by profession he was a haberdasher (Wikipedia tells us).  Born in London, Graunt, along with William Petty, developed early human statistical and census methods that later provided a framework for modern demography. He is credited with producing the first life table, giving probabilities of survival to each age. Graunt is also considered as one of the first experts in epidemiology, since his famous book was concerned mostly with public health statistics.