Life expectancy

Life expectancy at birth is the average number of years a person can expect to live. This can vary by country, age and gender. Although life expectancy shows the number of years you can expect to live, it doesn't provide a full picture of how healthy those years could be.

How has life expectancy changed by country?

The graph compares life expectancy at birth rates for the UK with 14 selected OECD countries over the last 30 years. Life expectancy at birth has increased in all countries over this time period with the UK's life expectancy having increased by 7.9 years from 73.2 in 1980 to 81.1 in 2013.

However, life expectancy at birth in the UK continues to be significantly lower than in many other OECD countries. In 2013, Japan had the highest life expectancy of all the OECD countries at 83.4 years, followed by Spain (83.2 years), Switzerland (82.9 years - not shown) and Italy (82.8 years).

Source: 
Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, Health Statistics 2015

How has life expectancy in the UK changed by gender?

The life expectancy at birth of both genders has generally been increasing over time. Though we often expect women to live longer than men, the gap between the genders has been narrowing. In 1980, the life expectancy of females was 6 years higher than males; in 2013, this gap has decreased to 3.7 years. While life expectancy for men at birth continues to slowly increase, since 2011 this increase has slowed for women (83 years in 2011 and 82.9 years in 2013) .

Source: 
Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, Health Statistics 2015

How has life expectancy at age 65 changed in UK?

Life expectancy at birth can be sensitive to differences in infant mortality and deaths in young adults, so we also look at the life expectancy of males and females at age 65. Life expectancy at 65 has also increased for both genders over the last 30 years, since 1980 this was by 4.3 years for females and 6 years for males.

Females still have a higher life expectancy at age 65 than males. In 2013 women at age 65 lived on average 2.3 years longer than men. This is a much smaller difference than the almost 4 years in the life expectancy at birth rates.

Again, life expectancy at age 65 for women has slightly decreased since 2011 - from 21.1 years to 20.9 years in 2013.

Source: 
Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, Health Statistics 2015
About this data

Life expectancy is defined as the average number of years that a person could expect to live if he or she experienced the age-specific mortality rates prevalent in a given country in a particular year. It does not include the effect of any future decline in age-specific mortality rates.

Each country calculates its life expectancy according to somewhat varying methodologies. These methodological differences can affect the exact comparability of reported estimates, as different methods can change a country’s measure of life expectancy slightly.

Comments

Would love to know more about the differences in how different countries measure their life expectancy and to what extent this explains some of the results.

Tad Woroniecki (not verified)
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