# You May Live Longer Than You Think

In The US The average life expectancy is 76 years old.  This average life expectancy is average though, and that means the statistic contains some additional information that is absolutely relevant.  An average across everyone includes infant mortality.  It includes people who smoke, people who drink heavily, people who never exercise, and people who are significantly overweight.  Therefore, people who don’t smoke or drink, exercise regularly, and aren’t overweight will likely be on the right side of the bell curve in life expectancy.  I firmly believe that for people in this cohort, living to over 90 will be the norm, not the exception.

This longevity has major implications for retirement planning.

### How Long Do People Actually Live?

The Social Security Administration posts actuarial tables that show the probability of death at every age across averages.  The chart starts with 100,000 people who survive birth and going through 110 years of age. People often (and wrongly) think that they will live to the average lifespan, failing to take into account the survivor bias. The average life expectancy is for the 100,000 people at birth.  For someone who is already 65 years old, their lifespan is longer than 11 more years.

Here is the most recent actuary table published by the Social Security Administration, for people born in 2020. The life expectancy column shows how many more years of life the people left in this group are expected to have.

Exact
age
Male Female
Death
probability a
Number of
lives b
Life
expectancy
Death
probability a
Number of
lives b
Life
expectancy
0 0.005837 100,000 74.12 0.004907 100,000 79.78
1 0.000410 99,416 73.55 0.000316 99,509 79.17
2 0.000254 99,376 72.58 0.000196 99,478 78.19
3 0.000207 99,350 71.60 0.000160 99,458 77.21
4 0.000167 99,330 70.62 0.000129 99,442 76.22
5 0.000141 99,313 69.63 0.000109 99,430 75.23
6 0.000123 99,299 68.64 0.000100 99,419 74.24
7 0.000113 99,287 67.65 0.000096 99,409 73.25
8 0.000108 99,276 66.65 0.000092 99,399 72.25
9 0.000114 99,265 65.66 0.000089 99,390 71.26
10 0.000127 99,254 64.67 0.000092 99,381 70.27
11 0.000146 99,241 63.68 0.000104 99,372 69.27
12 0.000174 99,227 62.69 0.000123 99,362 68.28
13 0.000228 99,209 61.70 0.000145 99,349 67.29
14 0.000312 99,187 60.71 0.000173 99,335 66.30
15 0.000435 99,156 59.73 0.000210 99,318 65.31
16 0.000604 99,113 58.76 0.000257 99,297 64.32
17 0.000814 99,053 57.79 0.000314 99,271 63.34
18 0.001051 98,972 56.84 0.000384 99,240 62.36
19 0.001250 98,868 55.90 0.000440 99,202 61.38
20 0.001398 98,745 54.97 0.000485 99,159 60.41
21 0.001524 98,607 54.04 0.000533 99,111 59.44
22 0.001612 98,456 53.12 0.000574 99,058 58.47
23 0.001682 98,298 52.21 0.000617 99,001 57.50
24 0.001747 98,132 51.30 0.000655 98,940 56.54
25 0.001812 97,961 50.39 0.000700 98,875 55.58
26 0.001884 97,783 49.48 0.000743 98,806 54.61
27 0.001974 97,599 48.57 0.000796 98,732 53.66
28 0.002070 97,406 47.66 0.000851 98,654 52.70
29 0.002172 97,205 46.76 0.000914 98,570 51.74
30 0.002275 96,994 45.86 0.000976 98,480 50.79
31 0.002368 96,773 44.97 0.001041 98,383 49.84
32 0.002441 96,544 44.07 0.001118 98,281 48.89
33 0.002517 96,308 43.18 0.001186 98,171 47.94
34 0.002590 96,066 42.29 0.001241 98,055 47.00
35 0.002673 95,817 41.39 0.001306 97,933 46.06
36 0.002791 95,561 40.50 0.001386 97,805 45.12
37 0.002923 95,294 39.62 0.001472 97,670 44.18
38 0.003054 95,016 38.73 0.001549 97,526 43.24
39 0.003207 94,725 37.85 0.001637 97,375 42.31
40 0.003333 94,422 36.97 0.001735 97,215 41.38
41 0.003464 94,107 36.09 0.001850 97,047 40.45
42 0.003587 93,781 35.21 0.001950 96,867 39.52
43 0.003735 93,445 34.34 0.002072 96,678 38.60
44 0.003911 93,096 33.46 0.002217 96,478 37.68
45 0.004137 92,732 32.59 0.002383 96,264 36.76
46 0.004452 92,348 31.73 0.002573 96,035 35.85
47 0.004823 91,937 30.87 0.002777 95,788 34.94
48 0.005214 91,493 30.01 0.002984 95,522 34.04
49 0.005594 91,016 29.17 0.003210 95,237 33.14
50 0.005998 90,507 28.33 0.003476 94,931 32.24
51 0.006500 89,964 27.50 0.003793 94,601 31.35
52 0.007081 89,380 26.67 0.004136 94,242 30.47
53 0.007711 88,747 25.86 0.004495 93,852 29.59
54 0.008394 88,062 25.06 0.004870 93,430 28.72
55 0.009109 87,323 24.27 0.005261 92,975 27.86
56 0.009881 86,528 23.48 0.005714 92,486 27.01
57 0.010687 85,673 22.71 0.006227 91,958 26.16
58 0.011566 84,757 21.95 0.006752 91,385 25.32
59 0.012497 83,777 21.21 0.007327 90,768 24.49
60 0.013485 82,730 20.47 0.007926 90,103 23.67
61 0.014595 81,614 19.74 0.008544 89,389 22.85
62 0.015702 80,423 19.03 0.009173 88,625 22.04
63 0.016836 79,160 18.32 0.009841 87,812 21.24
64 0.017908 77,828 17.63 0.010529 86,948 20.45
65 0.018943 76,434 16.94 0.011265 86,032 19.66
66 0.020103 74,986 16.26 0.012069 85,063 18.88
67 0.021345 73,479 15.58 0.012988 84,037 18.10
68 0.022750 71,910 14.91 0.014032 82,945 17.34
69 0.024325 70,274 14.24 0.015217 81,781 16.58
70 0.026137 68,565 13.59 0.016634 80,537 15.82
71 0.028125 66,773 12.94 0.018294 79,197 15.08
72 0.030438 64,895 12.30 0.020175 77,748 14.36
73 0.033249 62,919 11.67 0.022321 76,180 13.64
74 0.036975 60,827 11.05 0.025030 74,479 12.94
75 0.040633 58,578 10.46 0.027715 72,615 12.26
76 0.044710 56,198 9.88 0.030631 70,603 11.60
77 0.049152 53,685 9.32 0.033900 68,440 10.95
78 0.054265 51,047 8.77 0.037831 66,120 10.31
79 0.059658 48,277 8.25 0.042249 63,618 9.70
80 0.065568 45,397 7.74 0.047148 60,931 9.10
81 0.072130 42,420 7.25 0.052545 58,058 8.53
82 0.079691 39,360 6.77 0.058685 55,007 7.98
83 0.088578 36,224 6.31 0.065807 51,779 7.44
84 0.098388 33,015 5.88 0.074052 48,372 6.93
85 0.109139 29,767 5.47 0.083403 44,790 6.44
86 0.120765 26,518 5.07 0.093798 41,054 5.99
87 0.133763 23,316 4.70 0.104958 37,203 5.55
88 0.148370 20,197 4.35 0.117435 33,299 5.15
89 0.164535 17,200 4.02 0.131540 29,388 4.76
90 0.182632 14,370 3.72 0.146985 25,522 4.41
91 0.202773 11,746 3.44 0.163592 21,771 4.08
92 0.223707 9,364 3.18 0.181562 18,209 3.78
93 0.245124 7,269 2.96 0.200724 14,903 3.51
94 0.266933 5,487 2.75 0.219958 11,912 3.27
95 0.288602 4,023 2.57 0.239460 9,292 3.05
96 0.309781 2,862 2.42 0.258975 7,067 2.85
97 0.330099 1,975 2.28 0.278225 5,237 2.68
98 0.349177 1,323 2.15 0.296912 3,780 2.52
99 0.366635 861 2.04 0.314727 2,657 2.37
100 0.384967 545 1.93 0.333610 1,821 2.23
101 0.404215 335 1.83 0.353627 1,214 2.09
102 0.424426 200 1.73 0.374844 784 1.96
103 0.445648 115 1.63 0.397335 490 1.84
104 0.467930 64 1.54 0.421175 296 1.72
105 0.491326 34 1.45 0.446446 171 1.61
106 0.515893 17 1.36 0.473232 95 1.50
107 0.541687 8 1.28 0.501626 50 1.40
108 0.568772 4 1.20 0.531724 25 1.30
109 0.597210 2 1.13 0.563627 12 1.21
110 0.627071 1 1.05 0.597445 5 1.12
111 0.658424 0 0.98 0.633292 2 1.03
112 0.691346 0 0.92 0.671289 1 0.95
113 0.725913 0 0.85 0.711567 0 0.88
114 0.762209 0 0.79 0.754261 0 0.80
115 0.800319 0 0.74 0.799516 0 0.74
116 0.840335 0 0.68 0.840335 0 0.68
117 0.882352 0 0.63 0.882352 0 0.63
118 0.926469 0 0.58 0.926469 0 0.58
119 0.972793 0 0.53 0.972793 0 0.53

To scrub this data a little bit, I made the following chart:

 Male Life Expectancy By Age Age # of lives Life expectancy total lifespan 0 100,000 74.12 74.12 20 98,745 54.97 74.97 40 94,422 36.97 76.97 60 82,730 20.47 80.47 70 68,565 13.59 83.59 75 58,578 10.46 85.46 80 45,397 7.74 87.74 85 29,767 5.47 90.47 90 14,370 3.72 93.72 95 4,023 2.57 97.57 100 545 1.93 101.93 Female Life Expectancy By Age Age # of lives Life expectancy total lifespan 0 100,000 79.78 79.78 20 99,159 60.41 80.41 40 97,215 41.38 81.38 60 90,103 23.67 83.67 70 80,537 15.82 85.82 75 72,615 12.26 87.26 80 60,931 9.1 89.1 85 44,790 6.44 91.44 90 25,522 4.41 94.41 95 9,292 3.05 98.05 100 1,821 2.09 102.09

Key learnings:

• 83% of men will live to be 60, and of those men, on average they will live to be 80 years old.
• 45% of men will live to be 80, and of those men, on average they will live to be 87.75 years old.
• 14% of men will live to be 90, and of those men, on average they will live to be 93.75 years old.

• 90% of women will live to be 60, and of those women, on average they will live to be 84 years old.
• 61% of women will live to be 80, and of those women, on average they will live to be 89 years old.
• 25% of women will live to be 90, and of those women, on average they will live to be 94 years old.

### How To Tip The Scales In Your Favor:

Longevity is tied to our daily activities just as our wealth is.  It’s not like every American has the “average wealth”. The results are largely determined by the inputs.

No smoking: The lifespan of a smoker is reduced by 10 years to 25 years.  Other health factors, length of time being a smoker, and amount of cigarettes smoked per day all play a factor.

No drinking: The average lifespan for heavy drinkers is roughly 6 years shorter than non drinkers.

Don’t be obese: Moderate obesity results in a roughly 3 year reduction in life expectancy, while extreme obesity results in a 14 year reduction in life expectancy.

The difference between being obese and moderately obese is 10 BMI points.  Here is a chart based on height:

 Height Overweight Obese Morbidly Obese 5′ 2” 137 164 219 5′ 6” 155 186 248 5′ 10” 174 209 279 6′ 2” 195 234 311

This remind me of a funny joke:

• Guy 1:  I’m planning to live to be 100!
• Guy 2: Well do you smoke?
• Guy 1: No
• Guy 2: Do you drink?
• Guy 1: No
• Guy 2: Do you chase crazy women?
• Guy 1: No
• Guy 2: Do you drive fast cars?
• Guy 1: No
• Guy 2: Then why the hell would you want to live to be 100?!?!

#### On The positive side:

Exercise: There are several types of exercise that are linked to longevity.  Endurance athletes have shown the most increase in longevity. Longevity is tied to Vo2 max, how much oxygen our lungs can process.  Long distance runners have a much higher Vo2 max and on average live around 5 years longer than non runners.  Sprinting is also a major factor.  All animals are supposed to sprint.  Run like the wind for 30 seconds, then rest and relax.  Then do it a couple more times, 3 times a week.

Eat real food:  The average American diet is a composite of the worst possible things humans could conceive of to digest.  Sugar in all of its forms, other refined carbohydrates, hydrogenated fat, vegetable oils, preservatives, and artificial coloring are all terrible for us.  Replacing pop tarts with sausage and eggs, replacing a big mac meal with lean chicken and rice, replacing jolly ranchers with black berries, will go a great distance towards living a longer life.

Eat less food:  Consuming fewer calories is a major indicator of longevity.  Consuming fewer calories eliminates obesity and its problems, but also allows the body to clear out the bad stuff when fasting.  Study after study have shown that fasting periodically and consuming fewer overall calories leads to a longer life throughout the animal kingdom.

Be rich: Charlie Munger, Warren Buffett’s investing partner, died at 99 years old.  In a recent interview he stated he has gone 99 years without exercising and isn’t going to start any time soon.  Being wealthy takes away stress and gives people a lot more options.  Becoming wealthy is very helpful to living a long life. Living in a constant stress situation with a scarcity mindset is like being chased by a tiger, non stop, 24 hours a day.

Have a purpose:  Imagine this: You are 65 years old.  You retired a year ago, have a couple million in the bank and you wake up with nothing to do.  So you sit in front of the TV, watch reruns and eat snacks all day.  You’ll be dead in 5 years.  Having a purpose gives our life meaning.  We need to have something to aim for the work towards.  We need to have a checklist of things to do each day.  We need to add value to others lives.  That gives our lives meaning.

Look at Jimmy Carter.  Regardless of how you view his politics or presidency, the man has stayed purpose driven in old age.  He started the Carter center in 1982 when he was 58 and spent the next 40 years dedicating a major chunk of his time towards eliminated neglected diseases, most notably the guinea worm, which had 3.5 million cases in 1986 and only 13 total in 2023. So far in 2024 there have been ZERO human cases of Guinea worm.  He was also heavily involved in Habitat For Humanity and often worked on physically building homes into his 90s.

Have meaningful friendships:  Women who outlive their husbands on average live another 12.5 years, for men who outlive their wives, they live another 9.5 years.  Part of this is that women tend to be more social and have more friends, while for many men their only friend and constant contact is their spouse.

### Planning your life in quarters:

I want to view my adult life in quarters.  The first 20 years we don’t have a ton of control over, but our adult life we do.  If I plant to live to be 100 my adult life is composed of 4 quarters of 20 years each.  I’m still in the first quarter!

• Q1: 20 – 40
• Q2: 40 – 60
• Q3: 60 – 80
• Q4 80 – 100

### Why Does This Matter:

This matters because a lot of people have the retirement plan of “I’ll just die”.  This is a problem because most of these people will not die at 76 or earlier, many will live over a decade longer.  Failure to plan for these years will either mean a life of poverty or becoming a burden on family members.

Retirement Savings:

We need to plan for retirement savings to last for a longer amount of time.  We can not expect to be able to work until we die, since there are likely fewer jobs available for people in their 70s and 80s.  With the average retirement age being 64 and the average life expectancy being 76, this leads many to believe that they only need to prepare for 12 years of retirement costs.  For people who live to be 64, they will likely live another 20 years, and very possible they will live 30 more years.  This changes the equation dramatically.  Retirees should not plan to dip into the principal of their investments, but should have enough money saved that they can live off of the income.  I’ve written extensively on how the 4% rule is trash and that a 6% withdrawal rate for most people should be acceptable.  For someone needing to generate \$40,000 per year this means rather than needing \$1 million saved, they will be OK with \$667,000.

Social Security:

Social Security is great longevity insurance and for most people it makes sense to delay taking benefits as long as possible, ideally until age 70.  This doesn’t mean not retiring until 70.  Waiting to take benefits is an automatic 8% return each year.  The breakeven point for taking delayed credits for Social Security is age 81.

Estate Planning:

It isn’t uncommon for retirees to gift assets to their children and grandchildren in retirement while they are still alive.  This provides gifts to their heirs at times that are more beneficial to them, allows the retirees to see the positive effects their gifts have on their loved ones, and eliminates some tax and probate concerns.  The downside is that too much giving too early can put their retirement in jeopardy. For someone planning to live only another decade they may give away too much and then end up living 20 or 30 more years with financial constraints that wouldn’t exist without the earlier giving.

People are living longer and longer, especially those who take care of their health.  Over the next 50 years we will see more and more people living to be 100.  It is imperative that we plan for a longer life by adequately saving and investing during our working careers for retirements that may last for several decades.

John C. started Action Economics in 2013 as a way to gain more knowledge on personal financial planning and to share that knowledge with others. Action Economics focuses on paying off the house, reducing taxes, and building wealth. John is the author of the book For My Children's Children: A Practical Guide For Building Generational Wealth.