Rutgers New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station [Later Life Farming]

Module 1b: How Long Will You Live?

Life expectancy can be defined as the remaining number of years that an individual is expected to live based on actuarial tables used by life insurance companies and the IRS. The longer people live, the higher their projected life expectancy. The life expectancy of Americans has increased remarkably during the last century, extending our ability to be productive and enjoy life. Average life expectancy for a baby born in the U.S. in 2004 was 77.8 years. In 1900, average life expectancy at birth was 47.3. At age 65, average life expectancy is 18.7 years, and many people will live a lot longer. With increased longevity come the twin financial challenges of saving adequately for retirement and carefully planning withdrawals from savings so as not to outlive your assets.

Life expectancy depends upon a number of factors including personal and family health history, occupational health risks, health behaviors (e.g., diet, exercise, and smoking), safety practices (e.g., wearing seat belts), and more. Hundreds of online life expectancy calculators incorporate these factors and can provide an estimated life expectancy. Simply type the words "life expectancy calculator" into an Internet search engine and compare the results of at least three different calculators. Take note of the assumptions that are used for each. Results will vary according to the assumptions that are used.

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