Living Too Long or Dying Too Soon?

Vegard Skirbekk, Columbia University
Catherine Bowen, Independent
Anastasia Emelyanova, International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis
Elena Golubeva, Northern (Arctic) Federal University
Solveig Christiansen, NIPH
Marcin Stonawski, Crakow University of Economics

Young adults in developed countries can expect to celebrate their 90th birthdays. To date, little is known about how young people feel about the prospect of living such long lives. We therefore explored young people’s preferred life expectancy (how long one wants to live) based on questionnaire data from N=715 university students in Austria, Norway, Poland and Russia. Participants indicated wanting to live for M=87.43 years (SD=14.91), M=8.12 years longer than they expect to live and M=13.04 years longer than they think an average person of their age/sex will live. There was thus no indication that participants felt that current life spans are “too long.” In each country subsample, men wanted to live longer than women. How long people want to live was related to their thoughts about old age. People who prefer to die relatively young (<80) were much more likely to use tobacco daily and be physically inactive.

Presented in Session 1174: Health, Wellbeing, and Morbidity