Sean King

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Knoxville, Tennessee, United States

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Rethinking Life Expectancy

Orion Melehan: Life expectancy is the average measure of how long a child born today is expected to live. For instance, the new data suggests that the average American-born child will live to be nearly 78 years of age. But this data includes all the infant mortality deaths, diseases and the reckless activities we tend to engage in during our adolescent years. As a person ages and survives these dangerous years, life expectancy actually increases.

Based on all this, here is a statistic that I think is much more impressive than the recently released figures: A 65-year-old couple that doesn’t smoke has, according to the American Society of Actuaries, a joint life expectancy of 92 years old. In other words, there’s a 50 percent chance that one of these two people lives beyond age 92. And there’s a 25 percent chance that one of these two individuals will live beyond 97.

That's right. About 1 in 4 people age 65 today will live well beyond 95, and that's based on today's technology.

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