Campus & Community

The longer you live, the longer you can expect to live

2 min read

Quiz measures death risk

f you were born in the United States and celebrate your 65th birthday this year, you can expect to be around for your 81st birthday if you are male, and for your 84th if you are female.

Life expectancy in this country has been rising steeply since 1990, and the National Center for Heath Statistics concludes that the older you are today, the greater the age you are likely to reach. Men and women who make it to age 75 in 2006 can expect to still be around in 2016 and 2017, respectively. At age 85, the odds are good that you’ll reach 91.

Newborn boys should survive until about age 75 and girls to age 80, according to numbers published by the National Center for Health Statistics. That works out to a life expectancy of 77.6 years for people in the United States, up from 75.4 years in 1990.

How come people who have already reached these ages can expect to keep going for 10 or 15 more years? Because they have already dodged the mortal dangers that do in younger people: infant mortality, violence, and auto wrecks, according to the July issue of the Harvard Health Letter, published by the Harvard Medical School. The article also credits the survivor effect. People with good genes who have lived in beneficial surroundings – good nature and nurture – are overrepresented in older populations.