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Research Results

New research: how long we want to live

19 Feb 24

New research: how long we want to live
We'll live into our 90s - do we know it?

Overall, New Zealanders want to live for longer than they expect to.

Horizon Research asked people 18+ nationwide, if they passed the age of 65, or already have, to what age they think they will live.

18% (718,000 adults) expect to live over the age of 90 years.

38% (1,520,000 adults) expect to live to between 81 and 90 years.

28% (1,127,000 adults) expect to live between 65 and 80 years.

17% (689,000 adults) were unsure.

When then  asked the age they would like to live to. More wanted to live to an older age they they expect to reach:. 

32% (1,314,000 adults) want to live over the age of 90 years.

35% (1,435,000 adults) want to live to between 81 and 90 years.

16.1% (653,000 adults) want to live between 65 and 80 years.

16.2% (657,000 adults) were unsure.

There are some differences across age groups in the ages to which people want to live.

Who expect to live over 100 years?

12% (491,000 adults) expect to live over 100 years. There are some significant differences across groups and who expect to live to over 100 years.

  • Males – 16% vs 8% of females
  • Māori – 20%
  • Living in Northland – 31%. (Indicative result only because the sample size is 31).

Are we deluding ourselves? We will live much longer than we think?

The Sunday Star Times, reporting on the results, quotes actuary Alison O’Connell from the Society of Actuaries’ Retirement Income Interest Group as saying Kiwis are under-estimating how long they will live.

This can impact retirement planning.

The results showed people’s ideas were “quite wrong”, according to Alison O’Connell.

Just 18% expected that they would make it to their 91st birthday.

“But actually 42% of women will live to 91-plus,” O’Connell said.

That’s women born in 1958 who reached 65 last year, she said. People born more recently were likely to live longer still.

Experts expect about 30% of men born in 1958 to live to blow 91 candles out on their birthday cakes.

“Across the world there have been studies asking people how long they expect to live, and they all underestimate,” the Sunday Star Times quotes O’Connell as saying.

Horizon undertook the research as part of its self-commissioned public good research programme.

Research method

An online survey of adults living in New Zealand aged 18 and older.

Sample sources

Members of two nationwide Horizon Research panels and a third-party panel (used for source diversity).

Fieldwork dates

2 to 7 November 2023.

Sample size

1,010 adults.


The total sample is weighted on age, education, gender, Party Vote 2023, region and ethnicity to match the New Zealand adult population.

Maximum predicted margin of error

±3% at the 95% confidence level.

Population estimates in the report

These are based on the Stats NZ June 2023 population estimate of 4,053,860 people aged 18 or more.

Demographic results

Demographic results tables are other analysis are available for purchase from Horizon.


Graeme Colman, Principal, Horizon Research Email, telephone +64 21 848 576.

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