WASHINGTON (CBSDC) – According to U.S. Census Bureau projections, by 2050, one-in-five Americans will be 65 or older and at least 400,000 people will be 100 or older – but a majority of U.S. adults say they would not want to live to see 120 years old.
The possibility of 120-plus year lifespans has many in the science, medical fields very optimistic about the future. But even though life expectancy is steadily increasing, a majority of American adults reported to a Pew Research Center poll that they would rather die.
The Pew Religion and Public Life Project poll conducted from March 21 to April 8, 2013, among a nationally representative sample of 2,012 adults, asked if people “would or would not want medical treatments that slow the aging process and allow the average person to live decades longer, to at least 120 years.”
The response showed that 120 years may be just too long for a majority of people.
While 56 percent said “no” to living to be 120, roughly two-thirds (68 percent) said that most other people would like to live such an extended life.
Asked how long they would like to live, more than two-thirds (69 percent) of respondents cite an age between 79 and 100. The median ideal life span is 90 years – about 11 years longer than the current average U.S. life expectancy, which is 78.7 years.
However, there is a level of wariness about new medical treatments: just shy of a quarter of adults (24 percent) say they have “a lot” of confidence that new medicines and treatments have been effectively tested and distributed to the public.
And 41 percent say medical treatments of today “often create as many problems as they solve.”
But nearly nine-in-ten adults surveyed say that “having more elderly people in the population” is either a good thing for society (41 percent) or does not make much difference (47 percent). Only 10 percent see this trend as a bad thing.
Most adult Americans appear to be generally optimistic about their own futures, including their advancing age. A large majority said they are satisfied with the way things are going in their lives today (81 percent) and expect that a decade from now their lives will be even better (56 percent).
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