Data and Research

Americans Not Considering Longevity Risk

Eighty-seven percent of middle-income Americans ages 55 and older do not often contemplate or discuss their own longevity.

By Rebecca Moore | March 26, 2013
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A study released by the Bankers Life and Casualty Company Center for a Secure Retirement (CSR) found 50% of respondents have discussed longevity with their doctor, 40% with a spouse or partner, 34% with their children, 21% with a professional adviser and 15% with no one. Despite their reluctance to discuss longevity, those surveyed accurately estimated average life expectancy for American adults. On average, respondents with a median age of 65 said they think they will live to age 86, irrespective of gender, income or health.  

When it comes to perception of common factors influencing longevity, two-thirds feel their life expectancy is out of their control, saying that genetics (65%) is the determining factor in how long they will live as compared to their own actions, such as eating right (46%), exercising (44%) or smoking (37%).    

Middle-income retirees say they are having experiences in retirement that they never imaged, such as travel, volunteering and community involvement. However, longevity also comes with risk. According to the study, the two primary concerns are declining health associated with age, and the ability to create a sustainable retirement income that may need to last 20 years or more.  

"Considering longevity and the risks of outliving retirement savings is a first step in developing and achieving heath, income and even personal goals for a satisfying retirement," said Chris Campbell, vice president of marketing and business development at Bankers Life and Casualty Company, a national life and health insurer. "Discuss with loved ones or a professional adviser how life expectancy may affect decisions you make about your retirement years."