Time Perspective and All-Cause Mortality: Evidence from the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing


Daly M, Hall P & Allan J (2019) Time Perspective and All-Cause Mortality: Evidence from the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing. Annals of Behavioral Medicine, 53 (5), pp. 486-492.

Background: Long-term future thinking has been associated with a range of favorable health behaviors. However, it is currently unclear whether this translates into an effect on morbidity and mortality. Purpose: The goal of this study was to study the relationship between time perspective and all-cause mortality and to examine the role of health behavior in explaining this association. Methods: Participants (n = 9,949) aged 50 and over from the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing, a representative cohort of older English adults, estimated the length of their personal time horizon for financial planning (time perspective). 2,092 deaths were recorded over a 9-year follow-up period (2002/2003-2012). Smoking, physical activity, and alcohol consumption were examined as factors that may underlie the time perspective–mortality link. Results: Our prospective survival analyses showed that those who tend to plan for longer periods experienced a significantly reduced risk of all-cause mortality (HR = 0.83; 95% CI; 0.80, 0.87, p < .001 per 1-SD increase in future time perspective). This association remained after adjusting for baseline socioeconomic status and health (HR = 0.92; 95% CI; 0.88, 0.97, p < .001). The link between time perspective and mortality was observed across the gradient of financial circumstances and did not appear to be due to reverse causality. Healthy behavior among the more future orientated explained 34% of the link between time perspective and mortality. Conclusions: Using a simply administered indicator of time perspective this study suggests that a future-orientated time perspective may be an important predictor of reduced risk of death.

time perspective; time preference; health; mortality; smoking; physical activity

Annals of Behavioral Medicine: Volume 53, Issue 5

FundersEconomic and Social Research Council
Publication date01/05/2019
Publication date online26/06/2018
Date accepted by journal23/05/2018