The Life Expectancy of Older Couples and Surviving Spouses?

Janice Compton, University of Manitoba
Robert A. Pollak , Washington University in St. Louis

Individual life expectancies, easily calculated from individual mortality rates, provide summary measures for individuals making retirement decisions. For couples, analogous measures are expected years both spouses will be alive and expected years the surviving spouse will spend as a widow or widower. Using individual life expectancies to calculate summary measures for couples yields substantially misleading results because the mortality distribution of husbands and wives overlap substantially. We show how to construct correct mortality distributions for couples and surviving spouses. Using these, we calculate trends and patterns in joint and survivor life expectancy from 1930 to 2010.

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 Presented in Session 101. Family Demography: Methods and Projections