# Odds of a married couple both living to 100?

I suppose this varies country by country, but anyone have any idea what the chances are that a married couple could both live to 100, even if one dies before the other reaches 100?

I ask because both Bob and Delores Hope live to 100. I mean, he died “younger” at 100 and she was 102.

Is this answerable or is it too…wibbly wobbly to actually calculate?

If they both marry when they’re older than 100, the odds are pretty much 1. You’d probably need to add some constraints about the age at which they get married.

You’re not going to be able to get the answer from a standard life table because the lifetimes of husbands and wives are very likely not independent. If you want to ask what the probability of a randomly chosen man and a randomly chosen woman both living to 100 is given their current ages, that’s doable, though.

Good point. I’d say that the couple should be married for 50+ years, meaning married at age 50 or so.

If we ignore the correlations, then you just take the chance of a 50-year-old man reaching 100, and the chance of a 50-year-old woman reaching 100, and multiply those two probabilities together.

This is probably not a very good approximation, since their lifespans probably will be correlated (they’ll have similar lifestyles and eat similar diets, for instance). But absent any study on this specific question, I don’t think we can say how bad an approximation it is.

I think the odds of a marriage lasting 50 years without divorce are already about 50% or less so that limits the field to a very small number who beat the odds on both marriage and life expectancy. (*although people with a long happy marriage might live longer - just speculation - in my experience it could definitely also shorten a life.)

Just an anecdote, but interesting. Until the early part of this century, the two oldest living Austrians were a married couple. The very well-known mathematician Leopold Vietoris was the husband. I think they died within a couple of months of each other at ages 109 and 107. Vietoris’s first wife died early on (childbirth I think) and he married her sister and they stayed married for something like 75 years. Even in his hundreds, he was able to talk about mathematics.

You would have to take into account the effect each person had on their partner’s lifespan. I know being married for that long would tend to shorten anyone’s.

Actually, married men live longer than single men; getting married, for a man, improves life expectancy. But the reverse is true for women.

In the U.S., one person in 4,400 lives to be 100 (or at least I think that’s what this entry says):

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Centenarian

So if the odds that a husband and wife lived to be 100 were independent, the chances that a given couple would both live to be 100 would be one in 19,360,000. That would mean that it’s quite rare, but you could expect a few (no more than 10, say) of the American married couples presently living to eventually both live to 100. Again, this assumes that the odds are independent. I suspect that they aren’t, so there probably would be somewhat more such couples than this would predict.