How Long Will I Live?
Oct 4, 2022
Blueprint Income Team
We aren’t fortune tellers, but with good data we can make predictions for the future. Here we answer the question “how long will I live?” by analyzing data.
- The NIH-AARP Diet and Health Study from the 1990s looked to identify behaviors that affected one's life expectancy.
- Two key drivers of how long someone will live: smoking and outlook on one's health.
- Answer the question 'how long will I live?' by using the longevity calculator.
In tackling the subject, “How Long Will I Live?”, I should start by saying that I’m no health expert. But what I lack in medical knowledge, I am able to make up for with data. Analyzing data is a great way to see what factors actually answer this age old question and take the subjectivity out of it.
In the 1990s, the NIH and AARP partnered to conduct a study that spanned a decade and was meant to gauge what factors in someone’s life were most predictive of answering the question “how long will I live?” The NIH and AARP data is a great example of a longitudinal study. It had a large sample size, asked detailed questions of participants, and then went back a decade later to figure which subjects were still alive and which were not. Then, the data that had been provided by participants about their lifestyles was regressed to determine which variables were most predictive of someone’s longevity expectations.
That is the data behind the Longevity Calculator on our website that was created by Wharton statistics professor and Amazon data scientist Dean Foster. Here are three critical components that help statisticians answer the question, “how long will I live?” (Really they’re answering the question, “how long am I likely to live?”)
Take the longevity calculator test to find out how long you might live.
Here are four critical components that help statisticians answer the question, “how long will I live?” explored via an example using the longevity calculator (Really they’re answering the question, “how long am I likely to live?”)
How you assess your overall health is more subjective than other aspects of the study, but the difference between someone who says they’re in poor health and someone who says they’re in great health was correlated with 13.4 extra years of living! Your own perception of your health really matters.
In this example, the respondent was a non-smoker and was expected to live to 97.3. Contrast that with a heavy smoker who still smokes and it accounts for a 13.5 year swing!
Our longevity tool tells us that exercising once or twice a week, as opposed to never or rarely exercising, certainly adds at least a year or two to your life. Further exercise, however, say three or more times per week, doesn’t seem to significantly further increase one’s lifespan, for males or females.
Although the overall impact isn’t as pronounced as with smoking or how you assess your own health, drinking some alcohol correlates to longer life expectancies compared to abstaining or drinking a lot. It’s an unexpected result, perhaps driven by the correlation between drinking and socializing, like the French paradox!
Use the results from the longevity calculator to refine your retirement planning. Namely, are you planning for a long enough retirement? If your life expectancy winds up being higher than you anticipated, consider a couple of strategies:
- Delay claiming Social Security until age 70
- Make sure some of your retirement savings are guaranteed to last forever, such as via an income annuity
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Blueprint Income Team
We are a team of finance, insurance, and actuarial professionals working to make it easier for everyone to achieve a steady and comfortable retirement. We write about annuities (the good and the bad) and provide strategies to help Americans prepare for retirement.