Downloads

Life Expectancy as a Constructed Belief: Evidence of a Live-to or Die-by Framing Effect

Life expectations are essential inputs for many important personal decisions. We propose that longevity beliefs are responses constructed at the time of judgment, subject to irrelevant task and context factors, and leading to predictable biases. Specifically, we examine whether life expectancy is affected by the framing of expectations questions as either live-to or die-by, as well as by factors that actually affect longevity such as age, gender, and self-reported health. We find that individuals in a live-to frame report significantly higher chances of being alive at ages 55 through 95 than people in a corresponding die-by frame. Estimated mean life expectancies across three studies and 2300 respondents were 7.38 to 9.17 years longer when solicited in a live-to frame. We are additionally able to show how this framing works on a process level and how it affects preference for life annuities. Implications for models of financial decision making are discussed.

The Russell Sage Foundation
Journal of the Social Sciences

The Russell Sage Foundation Journal of the Social Sciences is a peer-reviewed, open-access journal of original empirical research articles by both established and emerging scholars.

Awards

The Russell Sage Foundation offers awards and positions in our Visiting Scholars program for research.

Newsletter

Join our mailing list for email updates.