Americans' Long-Life Expectations Clash with Reality, According to New Survey Jointly Sponsored by the Stanford Center on Longevity and Time

Survey: Most Americans Want to Live to 100, but Few are Making Serious Efforts to Live Long, High-Quality Lives

Feb 11, 2016, 09:45 ET from Stanford Center on Longevity

WASHINGTON, Feb. 11, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- Seventy-seven percent of Americans want to live to be 100, but only one in three Americans is making serious efforts to achieve a longer, high-quality life, according to a survey jointly undertaken by the Stanford Center on Longevity and Time magazine.

"The surprise in this survey is not that people want to live to 100, but it is how little they have done to prepare for this eventuality," said Peter D. Hart, of Hart Research Associates who conducted the survey. "Americans admit to having overweight bodies and underweight financial strength in preparing for a long life."

This survey was conducted to supplement the major Sightlines Project Report released today by the Stanford Center on Longevity that provides a report card on where Americans stand in preparing for long lives. In the survey conducted online with a cross section of 2,330 adults nationwide, Americans say they understand the importance of healthy eating, exercising, and financial planning on a long life, but they readily admit they are not where they need to be. Here, there is a major gap between their desires and their actions.

  • More than a third of Americans expect to live past age 90.
  • Only one-third of Americans feel happy with their financial situation and their body weight. 
  • Of Americans who actively pursue the goal of living a long life, most are concentrating on improving their physical health, while ignoring their finances.
  • Of Americans under 65 who want to retire before they are 65, fully 41% think they will not have the financial means to support living to the age of 100.

Hart Research Associates found in their Most-Admired Older American Survey that when it comes to selecting from a list of 23 role models for a long life, Americans rate Clint Eastwood as the most admired public figure over age 75. Here are the top ten scores.*


  • Clint Eastwood (23%)
  • Morgan Freeman (21%)
  • Jimmy Carter (19%)
  • George H.W. Bush (17%)
  • Billy Graham (16%)
  • Warren Buffett (13%)
  • Barbara Walters (9%)
  • Nancy Reagan (9%)
  • Ruth Bader Ginsburg (7%)
  • James Earl Jones (7%) 


"The fascinating element of the list of most-admired older Americans is that they are as diverse as America and yet, put them all in a room, and you would see they capture the genius and greatness of the country," Hart said.  

Hart Research Associates conducted the survey on behalf of the Stanford Center on Longevity and Time and released the findings in conjunction with the Stanford Center on Longevity Sightlines Project: Seeing Our Way to Living Long, Living Well in 21st Century America. 

More coverage on longevity can be found in the new issue of Time, hitting newsstands on Friday, February 12.


Survey Background:
The survey was conducted online November 20 to December 1, 2015, among a national sample of 2,330 adults aged 18 and over. The survey included an oversample of 300 Baby Boomers (adults born 1946 to 1964) for a total of 1,054; all age groups were weighted to their proper proportion in the total sample. Respondents for this non-probability survey were selected from a national panel of 2.4 million adults. Data for this survey have been weighted by age, race, sex, education, and region based on Census data to reflect known demographic characteristic of the U.S. adult population. This sample is an opt-in online sample and, as such, a credibility interval is used to index precision rather than a traditional margin of error. The credibility interval for this survey is 2.2 percentage points.

Survey Source:
Hart Research Associates

Media Contact:
Kristen McCaughan 

Media Contact for Time:
Erin Madigan White 

SOURCE Stanford Center on Longevity