The pattern of increased longevity is expected to continue in future years, mainly since more people are reaching advanced ages in good health than in the past, according to research done for Duke University’s Population Research Institute.
Financial experts commonly advise investors to take life expectancy into consideration in their investment decisions, including on matters such as life insurance, survivor benefit elections and electing long term care insurance.
The paper said that in industrialized nations, the average lifespan has been increasing by about 2.5 years per decade over the last 60 years, although there was a leveling off for women in the U.S. during the ‘80s and ‘90s.
The major factors are better medical care and rising living standards, the report said. People today are in good health on average 10 years longer than their parents were.
While there have been genetic links to longer-lived people, especially in certain ethnic groups, such genes are no guarantee of longer life, nor are they necessary for it if a person has few risk factors to shorten life, it said.
“Being overweight, high blood glucose, high triglyceride levels, high blood pressure, having ever smoked, consuming more than three alcoholic drinks per day, not earning a high school diploma, and being unmarried increase the chances of impairment in old age,” it said.
It noted that in the U.S. average life expectancy for a woman is five years longer than it is for a man, a difference it attributed to women more commonly seeking out medical care and men more commonly taking risks.