Financial security later in life is a growing challenge as Americans are expected to live longer, even beyond 100 years, according to a study from the Stanford Center on Longevity at Stanford University.

“The developed world is bearing witness to a 21st Century miracle,” the Center announced as it released the results of its Sightlines Project. “Three out of four Americans indicate that they want to live to 100 if they can do so in good health. Compelling scientific evidence indicates that living long and living well is most realistic for those who are socially engaged, adopt healthy living behaviors and are able to build financial security.”

Transamerica sponsored the Sightlines Project with the Stanford Center on Longevity, which studies the nature and development of the human life span and is dedicated to the well-being of people of all ages.

The project investigates how well Americans are doing in areas deemed critical to well-being as people age: financial security, social engagement and healthy living. Findings are based on analyses of eight nationally representative, high quality, multi-year studies over two decades involving more than 1.2 million Americans.

The Sightlines Project uncovered encouraging news about American lifestyles, but also revealed concerns.

On the positive side, smoking is in decline among Americans of every age group, and more Americans are exercising regularly, with more than half of all Millennials (ages 25-34) getting at least the recommended amount of exercise.

However, problems with diet and sleep are widespread, and sitting—an indicator of sedentary lifestyles—has emerged as an independent risk factor.

While living longer is becoming more likely, the Center found financial security has deteriorated from 2000 to 2014, especially among the least educated. Fewer Americans are opening retirement savings accounts prior to age 55, and only a third of American workers who don’t have access to workplace savings plans open an account.

“Trends in financial security are discouraging across the board,” the Center reported. “The situation among Millennials is alarming.”

That generation is facing multiple struggles. Those who are least educated often live at or near the poverty level, and those who went to college are more likely to carry debt, and that debt is five times higher than those who attended college just 15 years ago.

Stanford University President John Hennessy applauded the study.

“The Sightlines Project, led by our own Stanford Center on Longevity, has made significant headway in illuminating the means to a better future for Americans living long and living well in the 21st century,” Hennessy said. “I look forward to the collaboration and innovation needed among universities, industry, and the public sector to capitalize on one of the greatest opportunities of our times.”

In addition to working with Stanford University, Transamerica supports the Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies® and works closely with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s (MIT) AgeLab, which strives to improve the quality of life of an aging population and caregivers.

“Aging is a big space, and there are a lot of different ways to tackle it,” said Greg Smith, Transamerica vice president of digital platform. “These are the conversations that matter. Working with different schools in different ways is a big part of uncovering new ways of understanding aging and how we address retirement readiness and the needs of caregivers.”

Full results of Stanford’s groundbreaking Sightlines Project are online at: Sightlinesproject.Stanford.edu.

About Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies®

Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies® is a division of Transamerica Institute®, a nonprofit, private foundation that is funded by contributions from Transamerica Life Insurance Company and its affiliates and may receive funds from unaffiliated third parties. For more information, please visit www.transamericacenter.org

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