Life Expectancy May Be Driving All of Your Major Decisions
When you marry, when you divorce, how long you stay in school could be motivated by how long you expect to live
April 9, 2012 - Major decisions in life, such as marriage, divorce, abortion, having a child and seeking a university
education, may be subconsciously influenced by how long people believe they will live, according to a Queen’s University study.
The longer someone expects to live, the more time they will invest in education. If life expectancy is short, someone may
decide to get married and have children sooner, or stick with the partner they are currently with rather than seek a divorce.
“Life expectancy might be driving all of these major decisions,” says Daniel Krupp, a post doctoral fellow in the Queen’s
math department who has a background in psychology and biology.
It is impossible to know how long someone is going to live, but there are many life expectancy cues not consciously
processed, affecting how many more years people expect to live.
How healthy are they? Do they have a risky job? Are their grandparents still
alive? Is there a history of disease in the family?
A branch of evolutionary theory known as life history theory predicts life expectancy to influence major life decisions
in humans, as it does in the lives of other animals.
Dr. Krupp’s findings based are on analyses of variation in marital, reproductive, and educational behaviors at two
jurisdictional levels in Canada. Life expectancy was positively correlated with patterns of age-specific fertility, age at first marriage,
divorce, abortion, conferral of high school and higher education degrees (with the exception of the trades) and mean number of years of
The large and highly consistent relationships observed between life expectancy and the behaviors under investigation
suggest that these associations may be mediated by individual “perceptions” of life expectancy.
The study just been published online today by the Archives of Sexual Behavior.
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