When people retire may depend on how long their parents live

Jan. 18, 2014 at 2:18 AM
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BOSTON, Jan. 18 (UPI) -- Studies show the age at which people exit the labor force is related to how long they expect to live, but U.S. researchers say how long parents live is key too.

Economists Matt Rutledge and April Yanyuan Wu with the Center for Retirement Research and Boston College doctoral candidate Mashfiqur Khan confirmed individuals estimate their own life expectancy based in part on how long their parents live.

The researchers said they linked "subjective life expectancy" when older workers plan to retire to when they actually do retire.

For example, the researchers found men think they have about a 7-of-10 chance, on average, of living to age 75 -- based on how long their parents live -- so they make their plans to retire at age 64.

However, men who think that they have half those odds of making it to 75 will plan to retire about four months earlier than their peers, the researchers say. Subjective life expectancy also influences women's plans, and the magnitude of the impact is similar to men.

However, the sudden death of a parent causes longevity expectations to worsen and individuals reduced their planned retirement ages, the researchers said.

But it could be a mistake for middle-age people not to expect to live longer than their parents. Life expectancy has risen rapidly in recent decades. A 65-year-old man today can expect to live to age 84, or about four years longer than men at that age could've expected to live three decades ago -- the men of his father's generation, the researchers said.

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