The great thing about science is people are now living older and in better health in the past. From a certain point of view, a long lifespan may be a curse rather than a blessing. In Lee Eisenberg’s book, the author mentions historical information about lifespans:
… [I]n the 4,500 years between the Bronze Age and 1900, life expectancy rose a scant twenty-seven years. It increased that much again in the last century alone. In the Bronze Age people lived on average to be eighteen (which means that the Olsen twins, Lindsay Lohan, and Ashton Kutcher would have perished of old age before they could have done much damage to pop culture.)
The World Future Society believes that a lifespan of 150 years is not too far off. Eisenberg mentions Don Haas, a former musician who became a financial planner. Now seventy-five, he has decades of experience in finance. He has his clients take a longevity test, a highly detailed questionaire made to give an indication of how long the individual might live. Don believes that people now in their forties should be planning to live at least another sixty years.
I’ll be thirty next year. Perhaps I’ll retire in another thirty years. At that point, if I remain healthy, I may require a Number that provides income for another sixty years following retirement! As Lee points out throughout the book, the New Retirement is not going to look much like traditional retirement. With the uncertainty of how people will support themselves on investment income, perhaps we’ll see more septua- and octogenarians in the workforce. With medical advances over the next fifty years, this might not be as far-fetched as it sounds.
When you plan for retirement, are you considering the possibility you’ll be alive much longer than your parents and grandparents?
Updated February 7, 2012 and originally published December 1, 2005.