British people tend to think they will die happy – but 10% say they would end up in hell

In the last ten years life expectancy has risen in the U.K from 77 to 81 and a half. We’re far ahead of average world life expectancy – which stood at 71 in 2013 – but rank as 19th overall. With life expectancy on the rise it seems that Britons' hopes for longevity are coming more into line with reality. 

New YouGov research reveals that although 68% of people say they fear death, only 20% say that death scares them 'a lot'. And overall British people don't want to live much longer than they are expected to – the median age people hope to live to is 90, while 27% want to live forever. Men, who have a lower life expectancy the world over, are more likely to want to live forever (35%) than women (21%).

People are also generally positive about the lives they've lived so far. Asked whether they would die happy if they were to die today, 40% responded that they would compared to 32% that wouldn’t. For those aged over 60, contentment is higher – 50% say they would die happy, while 25% say they would die unhappy.

However, a small but significant portion of the population (10%) believe that if heaven and hell exist they will indeed go to hell. On balance British people tend to believe they’d be judged favourably at the gates of St Peter (48% think they'd go to heaven), but among men the around one in seven (14%) believe they're heading for damnation.

Older people are significantly more likely to believe there is a god (41% of over-60s) or some kind of spiritual greater power (24%), but nonetheless do not tend to believe in an afterlife.

See the full poll results

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