Americans Seek Fundamental Change To Support Longer, Successful Lives

Friday, January 24, 2020 Lifestyle News
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WASHINGTON, Jan. 24, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- Americans are looking forward to the benefits of longer lives – especially the opportunity to spend more time with family – but recognize the need for significant changes in society to support increasing longevity, according to a poll from the Longevity Project and Morning Consult.  Developed in collaboration with the Stanford Center on Longevity (SCL), the Longevity Project supports research and fosters public dialogue on the far-reaching impact of increased longevity.

In the new poll, Americans displayed heightened awareness of the trend toward increased longevity and expressed general optimism about the benefits of living longer. "At the same time that we begin to look forward to the rewards of longer life, we need to understand that we must change the way we live. We need to make major changes to the ways we fund longer lives, manage longer careers, and even how we organize and engage with our families," said Laura Carstensen, a professor at Stanford University and the founding director of the SCL.   

Key results include:

  • Americans are aware of the general trend toward longevity. A majority of respondents report a belief that they will live longer than their parents. According to the poll, 63% say that it is likely they will live longer than their parents, 16% say it is not likely, with 21% having no opinion.
  • Most Americans see positive value in longer lives, with 52% identifying more time with their family as a positive impact and 41% citing new experiences as a positive result of living longer.
  • Longevity is seen as a net positive for the economy. Fifty-three percent of respondents view longer life as a plus for the economy, while only 23% view it as a negative. Older workers are considered a major asset, with an overwhelming majority agreeing that older workers are good mentors (84%), help companies serve older customers (80%), and are more mature in their dealings with coworkers and display stronger organizational citizenship (77%). Most respondents also believe that work quality improves with age (66%).
Despite the positives associated with longevity, many Americans, especially younger Americans, see a need for major changes to support longer life:

  • Americans are concerned about the current retirement financing system and are open to significant changes. Many respondents expressed concern about the state of their retirement savings and ability to save for longer lives (48% feel that they are not saving enough for retirement and 50% feel unprepared to save for retirement). Younger Americans are particularly skeptical about the adequacy of the traditional pillars of retirement (only 16% of Generation Z see Social Security as important to their retirement plan, compared to 43% of baby boomers). Due to persistent concerns about current funding options, many respondents expressed strong interest in new policy initiatives designed to increase retirement savings: 54% expressed support for personal savings plans offered by the government (compared to 11% opposed), and 59% expressed support for a legal requirement that all employers offer 401(k) plans (compared to 10% opposed).
  • Americans are strongly in support of a more age diverse workforce, but few see their employers making effective efforts. 76% of respondents cite age diversity as an important consideration for employers, a figure higher than that for gender, racial or LGBTQ+ diversity. But only 12% of employed respondents report that their employers are actively recruiting older workers, 13% implementing multigenerational work groups, 17% providing physical accommodations for older workers, and 24% providing training to stay current on new technologies.
  • Younger Americans envision a redefinition of family to accommodate longer lives. Younger respondents envision a more integrated role for families in the future. Generation Z respondents cite family financing of their retirement as important (28%), more than those who cite corporate retirement plans as important (27%). Planning to use your retirement savings to support adult children is deemed important by 41% of all Americans, but by 53% of Generation Z and 52% of millennials. Building retirement savings to support a multigenerational family (i.e. grandchildren) is valued by 50% of all Americans but by 62% of Generation Z and 60% of millennials. And when asked what they expect to be doing at age 65, 48% of Generation Z indicate they expect to be taking care of their children, or their children's families, compared to just 23% overall.
"Americans are looking forward to longer lives," said Ken Stern, chair of the Longevity Project. "But many Americans do not think our current system adequately supports them, which is why so many people feel unprepared for retirement and why many Americans express support for significant policy changes, like requiring all employers to offer 401(k) plans. This is an important signal to policy makers and business leaders to rethink how we work, live, learn and finance longer lives."

In the coming months, the Longevity Project, along with its corporate partners Principal Financial Group, Wells Fargo and Instructure, will dive more deeply into the specific areas identified in this survey, to further illustrate Americans views of the future and to offer insights and solutions for the financing, education, and work issues of the new age of longevity. 

View the full research findings at

Contact: Kaila (443) 433-6113

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SOURCE Longevity Project

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