Preferred life expectancy and the association with hypothetical adverse life scenarios among Norwegians aged 60+

29 July 2021
Vegard Skirbekk et al


how long older individuals prefer to live given hypothetical adverse changes in health and living conditions has been insufficiently studied.


the objective of this study is to investigate the relationship between six adverse health and living conditions and preferred life expectancy (PLE) after the age of 60 years.


cross-sectional face-to-face interviews.


population-based sample.


825 community dwellers aged 60 years and older in Norway.


logistic regression models were used to analyse PLE, measured with a single question: ‘If you could choose freely, until what age would you wish to live?’ The impact on PLE of several hypothetical scenarios, such as being diagnosed with dementia, spousal death, becoming a burden, poverty, loneliness and chronic pain was analysed by age, sex, education, marital status, cognitive function, self-reported loneliness and chronic pain.


average PLE was 91.4 years (95% CI 90.9, 92.0), and there was no difference between men and women, but those at older ages had higher PLE than those at younger ages. The scenarios that had the strongest negative effects on PLE were dementia, followed by chronic pain, being a burden to society, loneliness, poverty and losing one’s spouse. PLE among singles was not affected by the prospect of feeling lonely. The higher educated had lower PLE for dementia and chronic pain.


among Norwegians 60+, the desire to live into advanced ages is significantly reduced by hypothetical adverse life scenarios, with the strongest effect caused by dementia and chronic pain.

End of life care Age and Ageing Journal Research