Skip to main content
×
Home
    • Aa
    • Aa

Old age expectations are related to how long people want to live

  • CATHERINE E. BOWEN (a1) and VEGARD SKIRBEKK (a2) (a3)
Abstract
ABSTRACT

How long do people want to live? Why do some people want to live a very long time, and others would rather die relatively young? In the current study we examine the extent to which the preference to die young (<80 years, less than average life expectancy) or to live somewhat longer or much longer than average life expectancy (90-99 years or 100+ years, respectively) is related to a person's positive and negative expectations of what their life will be like in old age. We use multinomial regression analysis based on survey data from a large sample of younger and middle-aged adults in the United States of America (USA) (N = 1,631, age 18-64 years). We statistically control for socio-demographic characteristics as well as self-reported happiness and health. We find that having fewer positive expectations for their own old age distinguishes people who prefer to die relatively young, while having fewer negative expectations distinguishes people who want to live beyond current levels of life expectancy. The results provide evidence that pessimistic expectations of life in old age can undermine the desire to live up to and beyond current average life expectancy. The study also provides descriptive data about how young and middle-aged adults in the USA anticipate their own ageing.

  • View HTML
    • Send article to Kindle

      To send this article to your Kindle, first ensure no-reply@cambridge.org is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about sending to your Kindle.

      Note you can select to send to either the @free.kindle.com or @kindle.com variations. ‘@free.kindle.com’ emails are free but can only be sent to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘@kindle.com’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

      Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

      Old age expectations are related to how long people want to live
      Available formats
      ×
      Send article to Dropbox

      To send this article to your Dropbox account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your Dropbox account. Find out more about sending content to Dropbox.

      Old age expectations are related to how long people want to live
      Available formats
      ×
      Send article to Google Drive

      To send this article to your Google Drive account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your Google Drive account. Find out more about sending content to Google Drive.

      Old age expectations are related to how long people want to live
      Available formats
      ×
Copyright
Corresponding author
Address for correspondence: Catherine E. Bowen, Wittgenstein Centre for Demography and Global Human Capital, Vienna Institute of Demography/Austrian Academy of Sciences, Welthandelsplatz 2/Level 2, 1020 Vienna, Austria E-mail: Catherine.Bowen@oeaw.ac.at
Linked references
Hide All

This list contains references from the content that can be linked to their source. For a full set of references and notes please see the PDF or HTML where available.

J. J. Arnett 2000. Emerging adulthood: a theory of development from the late teens through the twenties. American Psychologist, 55, 5, 469–80.

L. Ayalon and B. L. King-Kallimanis 2010. Trading years for perfect health: results from the Health and Retirement Study. Journal of Aging and Health, 22, 8, 1184–97.

A. E. Barnato , D. L. Anthony , J. Skinner , P. M. Gallagher and E. S. Fisher 2009. Racial and ethnic differences in preferences for end-of-life treatment. Journal of General Internal Medicine, 24, 6, 695701.

S. Carmel 2001. The will to live: gender differences among elderly persons. Social Science & Medicine, 52, 6, 949–58.

S. Carmel , A. Shrira and D. Shmotkin 2013. The will to live and death-related decline in life satisfaction. Psychology and Aging, 28, 4, 1115–23.

A. J. Cuddy , M. I. Norton and S. T. Fiske 2005. This old stereotype: the pervasiveness and persistence of the elderly stereotype. Journal of Social Issues, 61, 2, 267–85.

N. Dragojlovic 2013. Canadians’ support for radical life extension resulting from advances in regenerative medicine. Journal of Aging Studies, 27, 2, 151–8.

I. T. Elo 2009. Social class differentials in health and mortality: patterns and explanations in comparative perspective. Annual Review of Sociology, 35, 1, 553–72.

A. C. Gottschall , S. G. West and C. K. Enders 2012. A comparison of item-level and scale-level multiple imputation for questionnaire batteries. Multivariate Behavioral Research, 47, 1, 125.

J. W. Graham 2009. Missing data analysis: making it work in the real world. Annual Review of Psychology, 60, 1, 549–76.

J. Heckhausen , R. A. Dixon and P. B. Baltes 1989. Gains and losses in development throughout adulthood as perceived by different adult age groups. Developmental Psychology, 25, 1, 109–21.

E. A. Huohvanainen , T. E. Strandberg , K. H. Pitkälä , H. Karppinen and R. S. Tilvis 2012. Do you wish to live to the age of 100? A survey of older men. Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, 60, 10, 1983–4.

D. Jopp , C. Rott and F. Oswald 2008. Valuation of life in old and very old age: the role of sociodemographic, social, and health resources for positive adaptation. The Gerontologist, 48, 5, 646–58.

H. Karppinen , M.-L. Laakkonen , T. E. Strandberg , R. S. Tilvis and K. H. Pitkala 2012. Will-to-live and survival in a 10-year follow-up among older people. Age and Ageing, 41, 6, 789–94.

E.-M. Kessler , S. Agines and C. E. Bowen 2015. Attitudes towards seeking mental health services among older adults: personal and contextual correlates. Aging & Mental Health, 19, 2, 182–91.

E. U. B. Kibele , D. Jasilionis and V. M. Shkolnikov 2013. Widening socioeconomic differences in mortality among men aged 65 years and older in Germany. Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health, 67, 5, 453–7.

M. E. Kite , G. D. Stockdale , B. E. Whitley and B. T. Johnson 2005. Attitudes toward younger and older adults: an updated meta-analytic review. Journal of Social Issues, 61, 2, 241–66.

A. E. Kornadt and K. Rothermund 2011. Contexts of aging: assessing evaluative age stereotypes in different life domains. Journals of Gerontology: Psychological Sciences and Social Sciences, 66B, 5, 547–56.

A. E. Kornadt and K. Rothermund 2012. Internalization of age stereotypes into the self-concept via future self-views: a general model and domain-specific differences. Psychology and Aging, 27, 1, 164–72.

M. P. Lawton , M. Moss , C. Hoffman , R. Grant , T. Ten Have and M. H. Kleban 1999. Health, valuation of life, and the wish to live. The Gerontologist, 39, 4, 406–16.

M. P. Lawton , M. Moss , C. Hoffman. , M. H. Kleban , K. Ruckdeschel and L. Winter 2001. Valuation of life: a concept and a scale. Journal of Aging and Health, 13, 1, 331.

B. Levy 2009. Stereotype embodiment: a psychosocial approach to aging. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 18, 6, 332–6.

B. Levy , O. Ashman and I. Dror 2000. To be or not to be: the effects of aging stereotypes on the will to live. Omega – Journal of Death and Dying, 40, 3, 409–20.

B. Levy , M. D. Slade , S. R. Kunkel and S. V. Kasl 2002. Longevity increased by positive self-perceptions of aging. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 83, 2, 261–70.

S. Marques , M.-L. Lima , D. Abrams and H. J. Swift 2014. Will-to-live in older people's medical decisions: immediate and delayed effects of aging stereotypes. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 44, 6, 399408.

B. A. Meisner and J. Baker 2013. An exploratory analysis of aging expectations and health care behavior among aging adults. Psychology and Aging, 28, 1, 99104.

L. Nielsen , B. Knutson and L. L. Carstensen 2008. Affect dynamics, affective forecasting, and aging. Emotion, 8, 3, 318–30.

A. O'Connell 2011. How long do we expect to live? A review of the evidence. Journal of Population Ageing, 4, 3, 185201.

S. J. Olshansky , T. Antonucci , L. Berkman , R. H. Binstock , A. Boersch-Supan , J. T. Cacioppo , B. A. Carnes , L. L. Carstensen , L. P. Fried , D. P. Goldman , J. Jackson , M. Kohli , J. Rother , Y. Zheng and J. Rowe 2012. Differences in life expectancy due to race and educational differences are widening, and many may not catch up. Health Affairs, 31, 8, 1803–13.

R. J. Russac , C. Gatliff , M. Reece and D. Spottswood 2007. Death anxiety across the adult years: an examination of age and gender effects. Death Studies, 31, 6, 549–61.

C. A. Sarkisian , R. D. Hays and C. M. Mangione 2002. Do older adults expect to age successfully? The association between expectations regarding aging and beliefs regarding healthcare seeking among older adults. Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, 50, 11, 1837–43.

C. A. Sarkisian , T. R. Prohaska , M. D. Wong , S. Hirsch and C. M. Mangione 2005. The relationship between expectations for aging and physical activity among older adults. Journal of General Internal Medicine, 20, 10, 911–15.

S. Scheibe and L. L. Carstensen 2010. Emotional aging: recent findings and future trends. Journals of Gerontology: Psychological Sciences and Social Sciences, 65B, 2, 135–44.

Y. Trope and N. Liberman 2010. Construal-level theory of psychological distance. Psychological Review, 117, 2, 440–63.

G. M. Vernon 1972. Death control. Omega – Journal of Death and Dying, 3, 2, 131–8.

G. J. Westerhof , M. Miche , A. F. Brothers , A. E. Barrett , M. Diehl , J. M. Montepare , H.-W. Wahl and S. Wurm 2014. The influence of subjective aging on health and longevity: a meta-analysis of longitudinal data. Psychology and Aging, 29, 4, 793802.

T. D. Wilson and D. T. Gilbert 2005. Affective forecasting. Knowing what to want. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 14, 3, 131–4.

S. Wurm , M. J. Tomasik and C. Tesch-Römer 2010. On the importance of a positive view on ageing for physical exercise among middle-aged and older adults: cross-sectional and longitudinal findings. Psychology & Health, 25, 1, 2542.

Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Ageing & Society
  • ISSN: 0144-686X
  • EISSN: 1469-1779
  • URL: /core/journals/ageing-and-society
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *
×

Keywords:

Metrics

Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 7
Total number of PDF views: 99 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 799 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between September 2016 - 22nd September 2017. This data will be updated every 24 hours.