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Age is in the vernacular and in the law , the age , located at a natural person from their birth until the time of calculation results. The age must be differentiated from the life phases of an organism.

Calculation of age

In the area of German law , the age is calculated in accordance with Section 187 (2) sentence 2 BGB and Section 188 (2) sentence 2 BGB. These regulations state that a person is one year older from midnight on their birthday and not until the actual hour of birth. The legislature had to create a special regulation, since according to the usual calculation of deadlines in which an event that occurs during the course of a day ( birth ) is important, the first day is not counted.

When calculating the age, however, the day of the birth is included ( Section 187 (2) sentence 2 BGB). For example, if you were born on October 10, 2002 at 5:02 p.m., you will legally have reached the age of 18 on October 9, 2020 at midnight. From the beginning of October 10, 2020, the person is no longer a minor , but of legal age .

For those born on February 29th, in accordance with Section 188 (3) BGB, the completion date of February 28th is the expiry date in non- leap years (see deadline ); they are therefore equal to those born on March 1st in non- leap years.

Review of age

In order to check the age, the identity card / passport is usually checked. The birth certificate is used as the basis for the date of birth contained therein . In technical solutions for age verification, in particular for Internet offers , in addition to identity cards and passports, processes with central databases and registered mail, the PostIdent process or money cards with youth protection features are used.

If authorities have doubts about the correctness of an age, an " age determination " is carried out by "visual inspection" of the external genital organs or the teeth. This is particularly relevant for refugees and in youth sports.

Age information in historical sources

The death books kept by the churches very often (in Saxony after 1750 regularly for adults) contain age information . Sometimes it is already clear from the phrase “about 60 years” or “several 70 years” that the information is not precise. Often, however, exact information is given in years, months, weeks and days (whereby a month is to be expected with four weeks), but if the person is then found in the baptismal register , it is not uncommon for a difference to be found between the calculated and proven birthday , sometimes even by a year or more. One must assume that the entry in the church register was based on verbal information from the survivors. Their preference for round numbers ( 80 years ) is unmistakable. The pastor only made the effort to compare this information with the baptismal register in exceptional cases. In Catholic areas, the age of the bride and groom is often given in grape books.

In genealogical research, however, such differences should always be understood as a sign of caution, to check the matter again (see dead point ) and to consult other sources, in particular court trade books, in order to rule out errors.

East Asian census

In East Asia ( China , Japan , Korea , Mongolia , Vietnam ), a different way of counting the year of life ( Chinese    /  , Pinyin suì , Japanese sai , Kor. Sal ) was used. With this traditional way of counting (Chinese 虛歲  /  虚岁 , xūsuì  - "wrong year of life"; Japanese 数 え 年 , kazoedoshi , German "counted years") a child is 1 year old at birth and becomes a year every (Chinese) New Year older. In the extreme case in which a child is born one year old the day before the New Year, it is already 2 years old one day after the birth. The modern way of counting (Chinese 實 歲  /  实 岁 , shísùi  - "true year of life"; Japanese 満 年 齢 , mannenrei , German "age with full years") follows the western one.

In Japan, the traditional system was replaced by the modern one in 1902, but was widely used until the 1950s, when another law encouraged the population to use the modern system. Today the traditional counting is still used by the elderly or in traditional ceremonies.

In South Korea, the traditional counting method is still used in society, but the modern counting method is used in the law.

Individual evidence

  1. Otto Palandt / Jürgen Ellenberger , BGB Commentary , 73rd Edition, 2014, § 187 BGB Rn. 3
  2. Chih-p'ing Chou, Perry Link, Xuedong Wang: Oh, China! Elementary Reader of Modern Chinese for Advanced Beginners . Princeton University Press, Princeton 1997, ISBN 0-691-05878-4 , pp. 468 ( Google Books ).