The American Society of Actuaries offers a handy tool to predict your odds of living to any particular age. Just plug in your birthdate, gender, and health status, and it serves up a handy set of charts to obsess over.
I’m not one to second-guess an actuary’s calculations, but the predictions might be more accurate if the calculator also asked for your net worth.
As Bloomberg reports, our overall life expectancy has decreased, while the longevity gap between rich and poor has increased. Members of the one percent are now expected to live a whopping 14 years longer than those in the bottom percentile of wealth. Even when we ignore the extremes, the gap is significant. Longevity increases with each decile of income. Males in the top decile now live a full decade longer than men in the bottom decile.
Money doesn’t just buy a nice car or yacht. It also buys excellent healthcare, wholesome food, and a home---maybe two--- where you can enjoy the outdoors. It not only buys “the good life,” it buys a longer good life.
This information can be helpful for retirement planning. If you are in a lower income bracket and you’ve managed to save a bit, you could make the decision to spend a bit more than the standard four percent in anticipation of a shorter retirement.
It works the other way for those with more wealth. Since they are likely to live longer, they need to be more careful about spending.
It’s a classic good news/bad news scenario. Those who live on a mortal’s budget might get away with a higher rate of retirement spending than their wealthy counterparts, but only because they are likely to die sooner.
We’re all going to be reading a lot more about the longevity gap in coming years because it’s significant. Let’s just hope that in focusing on the differences we don’t lose sight of the most important fact. Rich or poor, long or short, we should never be anything but awed by the amazing gift of life.