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Life expectancy refers to the average length of time people can expect to live. It is a useful summary indicator of the mortality and health of a nation, an area, or a group of people. Life expectancy data are especially useful for health researchers, and for those involved in the pensions industry.

Publications

Decennial Life Tables
Department: Office for National Statistics
Graduated life tables which give statistics on national life expectancy for each constituent country of the UK. Published once every ten years.
Historic and Projected Data from the Period and Cohort Life Tables
Department: Office for National Statistics
Historic and projected data from the period and cohort life tables including the expectation of life (ex) the probability of dying (qx) and the numbers surviving (lx). Data is provided by age and sex for the UK and its constituent countries.
Historic and projected mortality data from the UK life tables
Department: Office for National Statistics
Mortality data used in the calculation of historic and projected life tables. Following the publication of the period and cohort life expectancy tables, ONS prepares databases for the UK and each of the constituent countries. Published for the first time in this release are tables of historic and projected qx (probability of dying at each age) and lx values (numbers of people surviving at each age) for the UK, on a period and cohort basis for each year 1951 to 2060.
Interim Life Tables
Department: Office for National Statistics
Interim life tables, which are produced annually for the UK and its constituent countries, give statistics on period life expectancy by age and sex.
Life Expectancy in Administrative Areas of Scotland
Department: National Records of Scotland
Life expectancy for administrative areas within Scotland.
Life Expectancy in Special Areas in Scotland
Department: National Records of Scotland
Life expectancy figures for urban and rural areas.
Life Expectancy in Wales
Department: Welsh Government
Provides information on life expectancy at birth for men and women in Wales.
Life expectancy at birth and at age 65 by local areas in England and Wales
Department: Office for National Statistics
Life expectancy at birth and at age 65 by local areas in England and Wales
Life expectancy at birth and at age 65 by local areas in the United Kingdom
Department: Office for National Statistics
Life expectancy at birth results for health and local authorities in the United Kingdom.
Life expectancy at birth and at age 65 for health areas in the United Kingdom
Department: Office for National Statistics
Presents period life expectancy at birth and at age 65 by sex for health areas in the United Kingdom.
Life expectancy at birth for wards in England and Wales (experimental)
Department: Office for National Statistics
Life expectancy at birth figures have been calculated for wards in England and Wales based on deaths from 1999-2003. Results are available for persons for all wards. Figures have also been produced for males and females where sex-specific ward-level populations were big enough to allow the calculation of sufficiently robust results.
Lifetime Opportunities Monitoring Framework
Department: Office of the First and Deputy First Minister
This report presents a range of statistical targets and indicators in support of the Northern Ireland Executive¡¯s anti poverty and social inclusion strategy ¡®Lifetime Opportunities'. The monitoring framework is structured around 3 ¡®layers¡¯: ? Child poverty targets ? Poverty and social inclusion indicators ? Public service agreement targets Analyses of statistics are on a lifecycle basis and are benchmarked against other jurisdictions when possible
Mortality in England and Wales
Department: Office for National Statistics
Comparing three measures of average life span: life expectancy at birth (mean age at death), median age at death and modal age at death.
Mortality in the United Kingdom
Department: Office for National Statistics
A summary of the trends in age-standardised mortality rates in the UK and constituent countries, 1980 to 2010.
National Life Tables
Department: Office for National Statistics
National life tables, which are produced annually for the UK and its constituent countries, give statistics on period life expectancy by age and sex.
Period and cohort life expectancy tables
Department: Office for National Statistics
Life expectancies on a period and cohort basis. Data is provided by age and sex from 1981 to 2056 for the UK and its constituent countries.
Public Health Outcomes Framework
Department: Health
Compendium of public health outcomes indicators presented at England and upper tier LA level. Indicators are split over 4 domains: improving the wider determinants of health; health improvement; health protection; healthcare, public health and preventing premature mortality. Public Health England is now responsible for the publication of the Public Health Outcomes Framework.
Public Health Outcomes Framework
Department: Public Health England
Compendium of public health outcomes indicators presented at England and upper tier LA level. Indicators are split over 4 domains: improving the wider determinants of health; health improvement; health protection; healthcare, public health and preventing premature mortality. The Department of Health was previously responsible for the publication of the Public Health Outcomes Framework.

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Overview

The most commonly used measure of life expectancy is period life expectancy at birth. This is the average number of years people would live if mortality rates at the time of their birth remain constant throughout their lifetime.

Period life expectancy at birth in the UK in 2010?12 was 78.7 years for males and 82.6 years for females. This figure varies between the countries of the UK, and is highest in England and lowest in Scotland. Remaining life expectancy at age 65 in the UK is 18.2 years for males and?20.7 years for females, also highest in England and lowest in Scotland.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) releases period life expectancy data each year in the form of ¡®life tables¡¯. These are available for each country of the UK, and provide data for each year of age. ONS also publishes period life expectancy at birth and at age 65 for local authorities across the UK.

Period life expectancies don¡¯t necessarily indicate how long someone is likely to live, as people may move to another area and because mortality rates change over time. However, ONS also produces cohort life expectancy figures, which consider actual and/or projected changes in mortality as a person ages. The latest projections, for the UK, suggest males born in 2014 could expect to live 90.9 years on average and females 94.2 years.

ONS also calculates ¡®healthy life expectancy¡¯ and ¡®disability-free life expectancy¡¯, and researches how life expectancy differs between different groups, for example by social class.

Life expectancy, 2010-2012 (years)

?

??

At birth

At age 65

Males

Females

Males

Females

United Kingdom

78.7

82.6

18.2

20.7

England

79.0

82.8

18.3

20.9

Wales

78.1

82.1

17.9

20.4

Scotland

76.5

80.7

17.0

19.4

Northern Ireland

77.7

82.1

17.8

20.5

Source: National life tables

?

Local areas with the highest and lowest period life expectancy at birth, 2010-2012 (years)

Highest Males

Highest Females

1 East Dorset

?82.9

Purbeck

86.6

2 Hart

?82.9

East Dorset

86.5

3 South Cambridgeshire

?82.8

Richmond upon Thames

85.9

4 South Northamptonshire

?82.2

Winchester

85.9

5 Guilford

?82.1

South Cambridgeshire

85.9

Lowest Males

Lowest Females

1?Glasgow City

72.6

Glasgow City

78.5

2?Inverclyde

73.7

West Dunbartonshire

78.7

3?Blackpool

74.0

North Lanarkshire

79.1

4 West Dunbartonshire

74.1

Dundee City

79.3

5?Dundee City

74.3

Manchester

79.5

Source: Life expectancy at birth by local authorities in the UK?

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Technical Data

The national life tables are released annually. However, to reduce year-on-year variation caused by events such as flu epidemics and severe winters, national life tables cover a three-year period, for example 2010?12. National life tables are available for each three-year period back to 1980?82.

National life tables are created separately for males and females, and are published for ages 0 to 100; life expectancies at older ages would be less reliable due to the small numbers of people at these ages.

Sub-national life expectancies are published for ages 0 and 65, and are available from 1991?93 onwards. Their methodology is slightly different to that of the national life tables as:

  • Sub-national figures are calculated using five year age bands rather than single year data, due to the potentially small numbers of people at individual years of age,

  • In the national life tables all deaths of visitors (non-residents) to England and Wales have been allocated to England for the individual country life tables. However, in the sub-national life expectancy data, deaths of visitors to England and Wales have been excluded at all levels below the ¡®England and Wales¡¯ level.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) also publishes the decennial English Life Tables (covering England and Wales combined) and Scottish Life Tables. These use graduation techniques to refine the figures further ? full details are provided in the publications themselves. The most recent set were published in 2009, and will also include tables for England and Wales separately and for Northern Ireland.

All of these life tables produce period life expectancy which does not take into account changes in mortality rates over time. Cohort life expectancy considers how mortality rates have changed or will change through a person¡¯s life. For example, cohort life expectancy at birth in 1990 considers mortality rates at age 0 in 1990, at age 1 in 1991, age 2 in 1992 and so on. Mortality rates for future years are projected; more information on the underlying assumptions is available with the data. Cohort life expectancy data were published as part of the 2012-based population projections.

Life tables are constructed using:

  • mid-year population estimates by single year of age,

  • deaths registrations by single year of age,

  • live birth registrations by month, and

  • infant deaths registrations.


These are used to calculate age-specific mortality rates. Then, taking an arbitrary starting group of 100,000 people, we use the age-specific mortality rates to calculate how many people we would expect to live to each birthday. These values are used to derive the total number of person years remaining to the group at each birthday. Finally, life expectancy at each age is calculated by dividing the number of person years left by the number of people left.

For example, using figures from ELT 16 (English Life Tables 2000-2002), the mortality rates over a three-year period suggest that at age 65, around 83,000 people (from the original 100,000) would still be alive (lx column in Table 16.1), and that those people could be expected to live another 1.3 million years between them (Tx column in Table 16.2).?

To calculate life expectancy at age 65 would be 1,337,554 / 83,328 = 16 years (ex column, Table 16.1).

The ONS also calculate and publish health expectancies for males and females which are based on three years of data. There are two measures: healthy life expectancy (HLE), the number of years people can expect to live in good / fairly good health, and disability-free life expectancy (DFLE), the number of years people can expect to live free from a limiting chronic illness or disability.

Health expectancies are calculated using:

  • mortality data,

  • mid-year population estimates, and

  • data on self-reported health from the Annual Population Survey.

Further details of the methodology used to calculate HLE and DFLE are in the publications themselves.

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Glossary

  • Age-specific mortality rate

    The mortality rate for a specific year of age (or for a group of ages). In other words the proportion of people of that age who also died (or are expected to die) at that age in a stated time period. For the?national life tables this would be a three-year period, for example 2010-12.

  • Cohort life expectancy

    This considers how long people would live on average dependent on how mortality rates have changed, or are projected to change, throughout their lifespan. For example, cohort life expectancy at age 0 in 2006 uses the mortality rate of 0 year olds in 2006, of 1 year olds in 2007, of 2 year olds in 2008 and so on. This means cohort life expectancy is regarded as more appropriate than period life expectancy as an indicator of how long, on average, people of a given age could expect to live. As mortality rates are projected to continue falling over the coming decades, current cohort life expectancies are longer than their period equivalents.

  • Disability-free life expectancy

    The average amount of time that people can expect to live free from any limiting chronic illness or disability. The Office for National Statistics produces period measures: this means they indicate disability-free life expectancy assuming age-based mortality and disability rates remain constant. They do not indicate how long people might actually remain free of disability, as the disability rates at any given age are likely to change in future.

  • Healthy life expectancy

    The average amount of time that people can expect to live in (self-reported) good or fairly good health. The Office for National Statistics produces period measures: this means they indicate healthy life expectancy assuming age-based mortality rates and age-based rates of good/fairly good health remain constant. They do not indicate how long people might actually remain healthy, as the good/fairly good health rates at any given age are likely to change in future.

  • Life expectancy

    The average amount of time people can expect to live. This can be time from birth, or remaining time from any particular age. Please see respective glossary entries for more details of different measures of life expectancy.

  • Life table

    A table showing death rates and life expectancy for each year of age (or an age group).

  • Period life expectancy

    This is the average number of years people in an area would live if mortality rates remain the same as they were during the time period to which the data relate. For example, the life expectancies in the 2010?12 national life tables indicate how long people will live, on average, if mortality rates at each age remain as they were in 2010?12. Period life expectancies are therefore a good indicator of the current state of health and wellbeing in an area. However, they do not indicate how long people will actually live, both because people may move to another area, and because mortality rates are likely to change over time.

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Contact Details

For statistical enquiries about this topic, please contact:

Demographic Analysis Unit

Email: lifetables@ons.gsi.gov.uk

Telephone: +44 (0) 1329 444681

Demographic Analysis Unit, Room 2300 Office for National Statistics Segensworth Road Titchfield Fareham, Hants PO15 5RR

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