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Amid Improving Life Expectancy Rates, Risk of Premature Death is Still Significant for Americans, New Study Shows

LIFE Foundation Compares Public Perceptions to Findings from New Study

Examining Mortality Risk, During Life Insurance Awareness Month

ARLINGTON, Va., Sept. 4 /PRNewswire/ -- Findings from a new study show that while mortality rates in the United States have decreased since the 1970s, the risk of premature death for those in their typical working years, ages 25-64, is still significant. In fact, there is a greater than 1-in-6 chance for males and a 1-in-9 chance for females of not surviving from age 25 to normal retirement age. These odds are much higher than most Americans perceive. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), more than 550,000 Americans ages 25-64 die each year.

The study, titled "The Changing Face of Mortality Risk in the United States," was commissioned by the nonprofit Life and Health Insurance Foundation for Education (LIFE) and conducted by the global consulting firm Milliman, Inc. to offer insights into people's real mortality risk and the leading causes of death. Its findings are being released today by LIFE to coincide with Life Insurance Awareness Month, a national campaign taking place throughout September to increase awareness of the importance of life insurance and encourage Americans to take steps to assess their coverage needs.

"As much as we'd all like to believe we will live to a ripe old age, the statistics tell a much different picture. While we are living longer, there is still a very real risk that many Americans won't live into their retirement years," said David F. Woods, CLU, ChFC, LUTCF, president of the LIFE Foundation. "It's impossible to predict what the future will hold, yet 68 million Americans take a huge financial gamble every day by having no life insurance protection at all. Having the coverage protects against the 'what ifs' in life, ensuring that your loved ones will be financially secure even after you die."

Real Mortality Risks Verses Public Perception

The Milliman analysis found that U.S. mortality rates have declined since the 1970s, an average of 1.5% annually for males and 1.1% annually for females. However, overall mortality risk is still significant. Today, the probability of death before age 65 for a 35 year old is nearly 18% for males and 11% for females.

According to the findings of a recent LIFE survey, however, Americans generally underestimate their risks - for example, only 5% of Americans ages 35-44 said they think they will die before reaching age 65, when in fact a typical 35-year-old male has a 17.5% chance of death before age 65.

"It's no surprise that people are generally optimistic about their own mortality. No one likes to think about the risks they face," said Mr. Woods. "People may think that the odds are in their favor, but unfortunately, we live in the real world where life happens. If you have people who depend on you, it's your responsibility to guarantee that they'll be taken care of."

Additional Mortality Trends

The study also confirms that mortality risks become greater as people age. In fact, looking at the probability of death within 10 years or less, data show that a person's mortality risk practically doubles every 10 years. Mortality rates for females also continue to be lower than those for males in the older age groups, but the gap is narrowing.

Probability of Death in 10 Years or Less

Starting Age 25 Starting Age 35 Starting Age 45 Starting Age 55

Males 1.4% 2.4% 5.3% 10.7%

Females 0.6% 1.4% 3.1% 6.9%

Probability of Death Prior to Attained Age 65

Starting Age 25 Starting Age 35 Starting Age 45 Starting Age 55

18.6% 17.5% 15.5% 10.7%

Males or greater than or greater than or greater than or greater than

One-in-6 One-in-6 One-in-7 One-in-10

11.6% 11.0% 9.7% 6.9% Females or greater than or greater than or greater than or greater than

One-in-9 One-in-10 One-in-11 One-in-15

Causes of Death

Analysis from the Milliman study finds that the leading causes of death for males and females vary by age. Young males ages 25-44 are most susceptible to dying from accidents and homicides, whereas the leading cause of death for males ages 45-65 is heart disease, followed by cancer. For females, the leading cause of death ages 25-34 is also accidents and homicides; however, cancer is the leading cause of death for ages 35-64.

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Research Methodologies

LIFE commissioned Milliman, Inc. to conduct a study analyzing mortality risk in the United States. The report, "The Changing Face of Mortality Risk in the United States," looks at data by the CDC from Social Security and Census data between 1979 and 2004, as well as the U.S. Life Tables for Social Security to derive trends on the risk of death and cause of death in the U.S. population.

LIFE's public perception results are from a nationally representative telephone survey of 1,005 adults, ages 18 and over, conducted August 16-19, 2007, by KRC Research. The margin of error for the overall study is +/- 3.1% at the 95% confidence level.

About Life Insurance Awareness Month

Life Insurance Awareness Month was created by the LIFE Foundation in response to growing concern about the large number of Americans who lack adequate life insurance protection. According to LIMRA International, a leading industry research firm, 68 million adult Americans have no life insurance. Those who own life insurance have an average of four times their annual income in coverage, which is considerably less than most experts recommend. Held each September, Life Insurance Awareness Month is an industry-wide, national effort involving more than 100 leading companies and tens of thousands of agents.

About LIFE

The Life and Health Insurance Foundation for Education (LIFE) was founded in 1994 in response to the public's growing need for information and education on life, health, disability and long-term care insurance. LIFE also seeks to remind people of the important role insurance professionals perform in helping families, businesses and individuals find the insurance products that best fit their needs. To learn more about these topics, please visit

About Milliman

Milliman, whose corporate offices are in Seattle, serves the full spectrum of business, financial, government, and union organizations. Founded in 1947 as Milliman & Robertson, the company has 48 offices in principal cities in the United States and worldwide. Milliman employs more than 2,000 people, including a professional staff of more than 900 qualified consultants and actuaries. The firm has consulting practices in employee benefits, healthcare, life insurance/financial services, and property and casualty insurance. For further information, visit

CONTACT: Brooke Parker



Katharine Carver


SOURCE The LIFE Foundation
Copyright©2007 PR Newswire.
All rights reserved

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