Individual Uncertainty on Longevity
KU Leuven Discussion Paper Series DPS14.28
40 Pages Posted: 14 Oct 2014
Date Written: September 24, 2014
The aim of this paper is to provide an assessment of individual uncertainty regarding length of life. We have collected original data through a survey performed in 2009 on a representative sample of 3,331 French people aged 18 or more. The survey design recorded several survival probabilities per individual, which makes it possible to compute (i) subjective life expectancy, defined as the first moment of the individual’s subjective distribution of personal longevity; (ii) the standard error of this distribution, which provides insight on the individual’s uncertainty regarding his or her own longevity. There is considerable between-individual variability in subjective life expectancies, in (small) part explained by age, illnesses, risky behavior, parents’ death and socioeconomic variables. The second main finding is that individual subjective uncertainty about length of life is quite large, equal on average to more than 10 years for men and women. It is logically decreasing with age, but apart from age, very few variables are correlated with it. These results have important consequences for public health and retirement policy issues.
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