WSJ – The Planning Point is Actuarial, Not Political




Reading the WSJ article below made me wonder how the facts represented impact the planning we do for our older clients.  There are so many issues that depend on our understanding of aging and longevity.

The WSJ article which can be found by clicking here.

What is usually referred to as life expectancy typically means life expectancy at birth: how long a hypothetical newborn would live if current age-specific death rates prevailed through her entire life. For older individuals, we care more about how long someone their age can expect to live, which can be calculated with the Actuaries Longevity Illustrator.  Geriatricians are increasingly seeking ways to measure not just how many years someone will live but how many healthy years, sometimes called healthspan. The evidence for Trump and Biden is favorable. The University of Connecticut’s Healthy Life Expectancy Calculator suggests (again, based on what’s publicly known) that Trump and Biden are likely to not only be alive, but in good health, for at least 10 years. 

Regular drinking of two or more drinks, three or more times a week, shortens life expectancy by about seven years. Both Trump and Biden are teetotalers, in addition to being nonsmokers.  “Those are two of the biggest killers right there,” said Bradley Willcox, a professor and research director at the Department of Geriatric Medicine at the University of Hawaii.  Biden and Trump are each highly educated at a time when the life-expectancy gap between the educated and uneducated has been growing. They are wealthy, also a strong predictor of longer life. They receive excellent healthcare.  Median life expectancy is just that, the middle. Nonsmokers and nondrinkers, who are educated, wealthy and have long-lived parents and good medical care, are generally going to outlast the median quite a bit, which is why many people are not only reaching their 80s but continuing to thrive.  “Many people who are 80 years old now have more in common with people a couple generations ago who were 60,” said Willcox.

Putting together all the known data, Olshansky estimates that Trump and Biden would likely have at least an 80% chance of completing their terms in good health, far better than voters think.

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