recommendations, including a significant revision of mortality projections. The conclusion that increases in life expectancy will likely be more rapid than is currently assumed in the Trustees Report is based on an analysis of potential future trends in smoking and obesity (Technical Panel on Assumptions and Methods, 2011). The TPAM noted that the slow pace of improvement in life expectancy over recent decades was due to the impact of smoking and obesity and that these behavioral effects will likely continue to depress U.S. life expectancy. However, after rising for decades, indicators for smoking and obesity have now plateaued. According to the 2011 NRC report mentioned above:
After 1964, when the Surgeon General’s Office released its authoritative report on the adverse effects of cigarette smoking, the increase in smoking slowed, stopped and eventually reversed in the United States. (p. 5–4)
Recent data on obesity for the United States suggest that its prevalence has leveled off and some studies indicate that the mortality risk associated with obesity has declined. (p. S-4)
The TPAM therefore assumed that the adverse impact of these behaviors on life expectancy will remain at, or close to, current levels rather than rise much further in the future. Taking these trends into account, the TPAM expects U.S. life expectancy to reach 84.5 years in 2050. This estimate is close to a widely used and respected projection made by Li and Lee (2005) but above the 2011 Trustees Report assumption of 82.2 years. As shown in Figure 3-1, the future pace of improvement is more rapid than assumed in the Trustees Report but still slightly slower than the pace achieved by other high-income countries in past decades.
The projections of life expectancy, population aging, and other demographic indicators used in the present report are based on special projections made by the committee to incorporate the higher trend in life expectancy recommended by the Social Security TPAM (see Appendix A).
Life Expectancy at Older Ages
Remaining male life expectancy for those aged 65 in 2010 equaled 17.5 years, but it dropped to 10.8 years for those aged 75 and to 5.7 years at age 85 (Table 3-1). At all ages women have more years remaining than men. The committee’s projections indicate an ongoing upward trend in remaining life expectancy at these older ages as well, with life expectancy at 65 reaching 22.2 years for males and 24.1 years for females in 2050. It is noteworthy that Japanese females had already achieved in 2009 the life expectancy that U.S. women are not projected to reach until 2050 (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, 2011). The declines in remain-