Americans modest about life expectancy

August 05, 2013, 8:59 PM GMT+0

Younger Americans underestimate their projected life expectancy and Americans' ideal life expectancy is lower than the actual life expectancy of 15 other countries

According to data from the World Bank, the average American life expectancy in 2011 was 78.64 years. New research from YouGov shows that Americans' average prediction for how long they'll live matches up with this reality. When asked, "how old do you think you will be when you die?", Americans' mean response was 78, on par with the average life expectancy in 2011.

Because of advances in medicine and technology, younger Americans generally speaking should expect to live longer lives than their older counterparts. Americans' predictions for their lifespan, however, follow the opposite pattern. Older Americans predict they will live longer, while younger Americans predict they'll live shorter lives. Those over 65 years old on average say they will live to 82, while those 18 to 44, say they will live to 76. Those who are 44 and younger can expect to live to at least 79, however, according to data from the Social Security Administration.

As for what life expectancy should be in a healthy country, Americans set an obtainable goal of 81 years old. While this is higher than the current life expectancy, such a life expectancy is not too far off. The Social Security Administration predicts that men born after 1999 and women born after 1966 can expect on average to live to 81.

Americans' ideal life expectancy is in fact comparably low with other developed countries. 15 countries have an actual life expectancy of 82 or higher, while a parallel study in the UK - where the average life expectancy is already 81 - showed that Britons' average ideal life expectancy was 86.

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