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The typical American life, in one chart

The average American man lives to about 76, and the average woman until 81. In that lifespan, the average person will spend more than five decades going to school and working — with just two to three decades left over for being a toddler and a retiree.

Here's how all of that looks in one chart put together by Wait But Why with data from Gallup, the Pew Research Center, the Baby Center, and the US Census Bureau, and federal data compiled by Forbes:


Some interesting facts about the average American life, inspired by the chart:

  1. Americans live nearly four decades longer than the average person in Sierra Leone. As with many developing countries, Sierra Leone's low life expectancy is due to a very high infant mortality rate that drives down the overall average. The good news: Fewer babies are dying around the world, and the average life expectancy is rising.
  2. Americans are getting married later in life. The typical man got married at 28 in 2011, up from 22 in 1960, according to the Pew Research Center. This is in part explained by the recession, which hurt the economic foundations people like to build up before marriage, and the rising number of college graduates, a group that is more likely to marry later in life.
  3. The average length of a US marriage that ends in divorce is about seven years. Remarkably, federal data shows this has been the case since as far back as 1867. One popular explanation for this, according to Psychology Today, is the seven-year itch: the idea that people tire of their mates after seven years together.
  4. Women are also having babies later in life, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The CDC attributes this rise to more women waiting until they're 35 and older to have their first child.
  5. The average retirement age is also rising, according to Gallup. In 1991 and 1993, the average retirement age was 57. In 2014, that rose to 62.

So there you have it: If you want to differ from the typical American, marry and retire early.