Tuesday, 25 September 2018 09:56

Life expectancy falls but older population grows

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Life expectancy at birth in the UK declined slightly in the period 2015 to 2017 after many years of increasing, according to ONS data released today.

ONS says that life expectancy declined by 0.1 years in the period, levelling off at 79.2 years for males and 82.9 years for females.

The latest data from the government’s Office for National Statistics shows that:

• Within the UK, life expectancy at birth declined by 0.1 years in 2015 to 2017 for males and females in Scotland and Wales and for males in Northern Ireland.

• Life expectancy at birth remained unchanged from 2014 to 2016 for females in Northern Ireland and males and females in England.

• Around one in five new-born males and one in three new-born females in 2015 to 2017 could expect to live to at least 90. However, the chance of survival to age 90 from birth has remained virtually unchanged since 2012 to 2014.

Life expectancy in the UK remained lower than many other comparable countries such as Switzerland, Italy and New Zealand.

Sophie Sanders, ONS statistician for the Centre for Ageing and Demography, said: “The slowdown in life expectancy improvements in the UK has continued as 2015 to 2017 saw the lowest improvements in life expectancy since the start of our series in 1980 to 1982.

“Some decreases in life expectancy at birth have been seen in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland whilst in England life expectancy has remained unchanged from 2014 to 2016. This slowing in improvements is reflected in the chances of surviving to age 90 years from birth, which has seen virtually no improvement since 2012 to 2014.”

At the same time ONS data has revealed that in 2017 there were 579,776 people aged 90 or over living in the UK, including 14,430 centenarians.

ONS says that the population aged 90 continues to increase despite a decline in births in England and Wales 90 years ago.

This reflects improvements in mortality going back many decades.

Despite this the number of centenarians decreased slightly between 2016 and 2017 reflecting low numbers of births during World War One but is expected to continue to increase again from 2019.

The number of centenarians has increased by 85% over the last 15 year however centenarians still only make up 2.5% of those aged 90 and over, says ONS.

Jon Greer, head of retirement policy at Quilter, said caution on the longevity figures was necessary.

He added: “A plateau should not be mistaken for a decline. It’s critical people are realistic about the possibility of surviving into their 90s.  Separate data has revealed the 90 years and over population continues to increase despite a decline in births in England and Wales 90 years ago."


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