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Life Health > Life Insurance

SOA: Many Women Underestimate Life Expectancy

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Middle-aged women who are not yet retired are more likely and less likely than other older consumers to know about how long individuals like themselves can expect to live.

Researchers at the Society of Actuaries, Schaumburg, Ill., have included that finding in an analysis of results from a 2005 retirement survey.

The SOA members developed the analysis to study the effects of retirement risk on women.

Researchers commissioned a survey of 300 retirees and 300 “pre-retirees” ages 45 to 80.

About 22% of the female pre-retirees gave researchers accurate estimates of the life expectancy of individuals of their own age and sex, SOA researchers write in a summary of the survey results.

The female pre-retirees did much better in estimating their life expectancy than members of the other groups surveyed. Only 4% of the participants in the group that provided the next best estimates, male retirees, gave answers that were on target, the researchers report.

But female pre-retirees also were more likely than the other participants to underestimate the life expectancy of individuals of their age and sex by 5 years or more.

About 48% of the female pre-retirees gave estimates that were 5 or more years too short, compared with 43% of the male retirees, 40% of the female retirees and 32% of the male pre-retirees.

Women need accurate information about their life expectancy because “women have longer average life spans than men,” the SOA researchers write. “Married women are likely to outlive their husbands both because of their longer life spans and because they often marry older husbands.”

Female pre-retirees showed awareness of their vulnerability to longevity risk in responses to questions about retirement concerns.

The female pre-retirees expressed considerably greater concern than male pre-retirees about a number of risks, including the risk that they might deplete their savings and the risk that they might not have enough money to pay for adequate health care.

Male pre-retirees expressed somewhat more concern about their spouses and about the possibility that they might not be able to stay in their own homes for the rest of their lives.


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