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Life Expectancy and Retirement

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Life expectancy in a given year is the average age a group of newborns would reach if subject to the age-specific death rates prevailing that year. Except for a brief drop caused by the influenza epidemic of 1918, this average trended upward throughout the twentieth century. When Social Security was created in 1935, the average life span was 61.7 years. Sixty years later, it stood at 75.8 years—a gain of 14 years. The number of additional years of life expected at age 60 has also increased. People whose sixtieth birthday fell in 1939–41 lived another 15.9 years, on average. But those who turned 60 in 1995 could look forward to another 21.1 years—a gain of 6.2 years.

Suggested citation: "Life Expectancy and Retirement," Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland, Economic Trends, no. 00-06, pp. 13, 06.01.2000.

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