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Life Expectancy Holds Steady, but Not for 95-Year-Olds

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The United States might not become a land full of 120-year-olds after all.

Annuity issuers, long-term care insurers and other companies with an interest in extreme longevity have been planning for the possibility of big increases in how long typical Americans, and especially hardy Americans, live.

(Related on ThinkAdvisor: Theodore Krause, 100: Still Selling)

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports, however, that U.S. residents’ overall expectation of years of life at birth failed to increase in 2013. The average life expectancy at birth was 78.8 years, unchanged from the average for 2012.

For baby boys, average life expectancy at birth held steady at 76.4 years.

For baby girls, average life expectancy at birth held steady at 81.2 years.

A team at the National Center for Health Statistics, part of the CDC, has published that data in a new set of life tables.

The likelihood that the U.S. residents born in any given year will live to be very old has increased dramatically over the years.

Over the period from 1900 through 1902, for example, the likelihood that the people born 100 years earlier would still be alive was very low: The survivorship rate was just 31 per 100,000 people born 100 years earlier.

For the period from 1999 through 2001, the 100-year survivorship rate rose to 1,479 per 100,000.

In 2013, the 100-year survivorship rate jumped to 1,971 per 100,000.

The new life tables show that the average life expectancy of the “oldest old” Americans may be leveling off, or even falling.

For 95-year-olds, the average number of years of life believed to be remaining fell slightly, to 3.18 years, from 3.19 years in the period from 1999 through 2001.

For 100-year-olds, the average number of years of life remaining held steady at 2.27 years.

For very old Americans, the all-time peak in average life expectancy came in the period from 1979 through 1981. For 95-year-olds, the average life expectancy was 3.34 years during that period. For 100-year-olds, the average life expectancy was 2.73 years. 

— Read 7 Secrets About the Science of Aging You Ought to Know on ThinkAdvisor.


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