Knowing that three new members of the Q15 were going to be called at the same time this Conference, I was interested not only in who would be called, but also in how old the new members would be. The Quorum is old: its youngest member going into Conference was Elder Bednar at 63. If a whippersnapper the age of Elder Bednar at the time of his calling (52) or Elder Oaks at the time of his (51) had been called, such a person would have entered the Quorum with a very high probability from day one of eventually becoming Church President.
But, as we’ve seen, no whippersnappers were called. Elder Rasband is 64; Elder Stevenson is 60; Elder Renlund is 62. Elder Bednar did finally lose his position as youngest man in the Q15 to Elder Stevenson, though. He had held this title since he was called over a decade ago.
Here’s an updated look at probabilities of becoming Church President for each Q15 member.
As has been the case since I first looked at this question, the top three in probability are Elders Bednar, Holland, and Oaks. Among the three new members, Elder Stevenson has the highest probability of becoming Church President, but it’s only about one in three. Although the new members are about Elder Bednar’s age or younger, they are all at least four slots junior to him in the Quorum, so there are many other members they would have to outlive in addition to Elder Bednar to make it to the top spot.
One other member to note is President Nelson, whose probability has increased the most markedly with the deaths of Elder Perry and President Packer. (His probability was not affected by Elder Scott’s death, as he was senior to Elder Scott.) In May, his probability was 23%. Now it is 36%, and that seems likely to be an underestimate as he certainly seems to be in better condition than President Monson is.
The graph below shows probabilities of each Q15 member being Church President across the next 30 years.
It looks like Elders Oaks, Holland, and Bednar are the most likely Church Presidents in succession. Below them are Quorum members who have a fair chance, but are never the most likely at any point in time. These include President Nelson, Elder Hales, President Uchtdorf, and Elder Andersen. And then below them are the men who are really long shots, like President Eyring, whose yearly probability tops out at 5% in the late 2020s.
Note that both the chart at the top of this post and the graph above were created using Google Sheets and their calculations use a spreadsheet function that checks the current date, so they will remain continuously updated.
If you’re a regular ZD reader, you’ve probably heard me describe this several times, but just in case you aren’t, here’s how I came up with the numbers in the chart and the graph. They come from two pieces of information about each Q15 member–his age and where he falls in the Quorum in seniority–and from a mortality table that tells expected mortality for American men at particular ages. The mortality table I use is from the Society of Actuaries (SOA), specifically the section for white collar males. For all ages up until 80, I used values for “employee,” and for ages after, I used those for “healthy annuitant.” I converted the raw mortality table (probability of death in the next year given current age) to a cumulative probability of death for convenience in the simulation.
For each Q15 member, I used a random number generator to draw a random value between zero and one, and then looked up his current age in the mortality table to find his age at death implied by the random number. Once I had each Q15 member’s age at death, it was a simple matter to figure out, for each member, whether he would be President or not. If he outlived all members senior to him, he would become President. If not, he wouldn’t. To find if a member would be the next President, I checked that (1) he outlived President Monson, and (2) President Monson outlived all other members between the two of them in seniority.
I repeated the entire process 10,000 times (up from 1000 in my previous post). I calculated the probabilities as the proportion of the 10,000 simulation runs in which the event occurred (e.g., the member became President).
The graph doesn’t even require a simulation. The probabilities are calculated from the cumulative probability of death table. President Monson’s probability is just his probability of surviving at each year in the future (since he’s already Church President). For all other members, their probabilities of being Church President at each year are calculated as the probability that they are still living multiplied by the probability that the men senior to them have all died.