- Contrary to longstanding assumptions, death rates do not drop off once people reach their 80s.
- No matter how old you are, your chance of dying doubles every eight years.
- Revised mortality rate assumptions could affect the pricing of all kinds of financial products, including life insurance and Social Security checks.
Despite great medical advances that have lengthened human life spans, your chances of living a very long life may be lower than you'd hoped.
That's the conclusion of a study by two longevity experts who reviewed the standard models that predict mortality rates and turned up a major error. Instead of confirming that death rates drop once people reach their 80s or 90s – as experts have assumed for many decades -- results showed that the risk of dying continues to increase each year, no matter how old people are.
The findings, if confirmed, could affect calculations that determine Social Security payments, life insurance premiums, retirement savings strategies and more.
"It all started as routine work on validation of previous studies, with more reliable data and methods. No discoveries were expected," said Leonid Gavrilov, who studies aging, mortality and longevity at the University of Chicago. "We were very much surprised [by the results], and for this reason, we delayed our scientific publication for almost seven years, trying to find mistakes and flaws in our approach."