August 6, 2013

Living to 120 and Beyond: Americans’ Views on Aging, Medical Advances and Radical Life Extension

Chapter 5: Personal Life Satisfaction

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The Pew Research survey asked several questions about personal life satisfaction, which then were analyzed to explore links with respondents’ views on radical life extension.

Fully eight-in-ten Americans (81%) say they are satisfied with the way things are going in their lives today. Just 16% say they are dissatisfied. On the whole, a majority of Americans (56%) are optimistic that their lives will be better in 10 years than they are today, while 28% say the future will be about the same and 11% think it will be worse. A majority (56%) also says their lives are better today than they were 10 years ago. A quarter say their lives are about the same, and 18% say things are worse today.

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Optimism about the future is modestly related to beliefs about radical life extension. Those who expect their personal life to be better in 10 years than it is today are somewhat more inclined to say that radical life extension would be a positive development for society (45%), compared with those who expect their future lives to be worse (32%) than it is now.

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The same pattern occurs when it comes to personal preferences for receiving life-extension treatments. Those who are optimistic about their future life are more inclined to say they personally would want radical life-extending treatments (42%). By contrast, just 28% of those who are pessimistic about their life down the road say they would want radical life-extending treatments, personally.

Views about radical life extension are not significantly related either to current life satisfaction or to ratings of personal life satisfaction today compared with 10 years ago.

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The Pew Research survey also asked respondents to rate a number of specific aspects of their personal lives. Familial relationships are the most highly rated: A majority of Americans rate their relationship with their children as excellent (58%), and half say the same about their relationship with their spouse or partner (50%).1 About four-in-ten U.S. adults rate their spiritual life as excellent (38%), and a similar portion say the same about the number of friends they have (37%). About three-in-ten consider their employment situation (28%) and health (27%) to be excellent.

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Fewer adults (13%) consider their personal financial situation to be excellent. Indeed, on a separate question about finances, about four-in-ten Americans (41%) say they worry about outliving their money after retirement.

However, worries about outliving one’s financial resources are not related to views about radical life extension, nor are ratings of other aspects of respondents’ personal lives, such as relationships with family and friends.

  1. numoffset=”8″ These figures are based on those who rated each aspect of their lives.