The developed world is bearing witness to a 21st century miracle – the real possibility of living well to the age of 100 and beyond. Compelling scientific evidence indicates that living long and living well is most realistic for those who adopt healthy behaviors, are financially secure, and are socially engaged.

THE SIGHTLINES PROJECT investigates how well Americans are doing in each of these three areas over historical time. We assessed the number of Americans who are meeting expert recommendations for healthy living, financial security, and social engagement. These results are intended to stir national debate, guide policy development, stimulate entrepreneurial innovation, and encourage personal choices that enhance independent, 100-year lives.


Change over historical time in % Americans who are doing well in healthy living, financial security and social engagement across six different age groups; dashed lines represent 5 percentage point change which we classified as significant.


SIGHTLINES POLICY BRIEFS Between December 2020 and January 2021, SCL conducted the Sightlines 2021 Survey, which collected data from over 1700 participants in the US to understand whether, and to what extent, their financial security, social engagement, and healthy living behaviors have changed as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. With over 80 questions, the survey covers a wide range of topics that span from income, debt, work, insurance coverages and retirement planning, to dating, marriage, family, diet, exercise and more. Here, we highlight several policy briefs that used this survey data to answer various research questions related to the pandemic.


How we are doing as a society after being gifted with an additional 30 plus years of life over the past century? Are we taking full advantage of this gift? Or are we missing the mark, reaching old age ill-prepared and in worse shape than preceding generations?

In 2016, we published our first look at just this question by zooming out to paint a bird’s eye portrait of how well Americans are living in this newfound era of longevity. To do so, we focused on three domains of well-being known to be

the building blocks of not just living longer, but living better: financial security, social engagement, and healthy living. Given the rapid, biologically transformative shifts in aging that developed countries have experienced in a mere 100 years, it was a small wonder to us that we observed many trends moving in the wrong direction. Americans report more sedentary behavior today than in generations past and fewer report being socially connected within their communities compared to 20 years ago. The most prominent downward trends, however, emerged in the domain of financial security. This is not surprising given that at the same time we were witnessing unprecedented shifts in human aging, the U.S. underwent unprecedented financial events. 

In concert, these shifts in U.S. aging and the economy put 20th century born American generations increasingly at risk for being ill-prepared for a lifetime of financial security.

Focusing in on financial outcomes such as buying a home, managing debt, or saving money, we saw major declines in the percentage of Americans taking actions toward a secure financial future. Upon first glance, these downward trends appear…READ MORE



The Sightlines Project was made possible by the generous support of the following sponsors:

AARP | Bank of America Merrill Lynch | Fidelity | Finance of America Reverse | JP Morgan Chase & Co. Mercer | Prudential | Society of Actuaries | Target | USAA