This bulletin presents male and female period life expectancy at birth and at age 65 for England and Wales and local areas within both countries. Figures are presented for the period 2010–12, with those for the periods 2006–08 to 2009–11 for comparison purposes. Information is given about the context, calculation and interpretation of life expectancy figures.
Period life expectancy at a given age for an area is the average number of years a person would live, if he or she experienced the particular area’s age-specific mortality rates for that time period throughout his or her life.
Life expectancy at birth has been used as a measure of the health status of the population of England and Wales since the 1840s. It was employed in some of the earliest reports of the Registrar General to illustrate the differences in mortality experienced by populations in different parts of the country. This tradition of using life expectancy as an indicator of geographic inequalities in health has been continued by ONS since 2001 with the publication of sub-national life expectancy statistics.
Several studies have shown that geographical variations in life expectancy can largely be accounted for by individual and area based deprivation. For example, using an employment and income based measure, Griffiths and Fitzpatrick (2001), (1 Mb Pdf) established that there was a strong association between deprivation at local authority level in England and life expectancy. They found that decreasing life expectancy was associated with increasing deprivation and that this association was stronger for males than for females. Similarly, Woods, et al. (2005) examined variations in life expectancy at birth across English regions and in Wales, concluding that the geographical patterns observed were largely explained by variations in income deprivation.
More recently, analyses of life expectancy at birth by socioeconomic position have reported a clear gradient. Boys whose parent(s) had an occupation classified as ‘Higher managers and professionals’, such as directors of major organisations, doctors and lawyers, could be expected to live 5.8 years longer than boys whose parents were classified to ‘Routine’ occupations such as labourers and cleaners ( ONS, 2011 (129.1 Kb Pdf) ).
Furthermore, the Strategic Review of Health Inequalities in England post-2010 (Marmot, 2010) reported that people living in the poorest neighbourhoods in England, will, on average, die seven years earlier than those living in the richest neighbourhoods.
These studies provide a compelling case for monitoring inequalities in life expectancy with a view to narrowing the gap between different areas. As noted by Marmot (2010), reducing health inequalities would benefit society in many ways. There would be economic benefits in reducing losses from illness associated with health inequalities. These currently account for productivity losses, reduced tax revenue, higher welfare payments and increased treatment costs.
Life expectancy figures are widely used by local health planners in monitoring health inequalities and in targeting resources to tackle these inequalities in the most effective manner. They also help to inform policy, planning and research in both public and private sectors in areas such as health, population, pensions and insurance. Key users include the Department of Health and Public Health England, devolved health administrations, local and unitary authorities, and private pensions and insurance companies.
In England, the Department of Health’s Public Health Outcomes Framework Healthy lives, healthy people: Improving outcomes and supporting transparency (Department of Health, 2013) sets out its vision for public health, desired outcomes and the indicators that will help in understanding how well public health is being improved and protected. This framework uses the difference in life expectancy and healthy life expectancy between communities as one of two high level outcomes for monitoring population health. Similarly, the NHS Outcomes Framework 2013/14 (Department of Health, 2012) includes an objective to prevent people from dying prematurely. One of the two overarching indicators used to measure and monitor this objective is life expectancy at age 75.
In Wales, life expectancy is used as a high level indicator in the Public Health Strategic Framework - Our Healthy Future (OHF) - to monitor progress against reducing inequities in health.
At an international level, life expectancy is used by the European Community Health Indicators Monitoring (ECHIM) project to monitor health across Europe. In addition, life expectancy at birth, age 45 and age 65, and by socioeconomic status are also used as indicators of access to care (including inequity in access to care) and inequalities in outcomes in the European commission’s policy framework on Social Inclusion and Social Protection.
The interim lifetables, 2009-11 (ONS, 2013a) provide life expectancy figures for England and Wales. They are calculated using complete life tables (based on single year of age) for three-year rolling periods. The national life expectancy figures included in this statistical bulletin were calculated using the same methodology used for sub-national life expectancy figures and should be used when making national and sub-national comparisons (see the ‘Methods’ section for more information). The difference in methodology means that the two sets of national figures may differ very slightly.
Life expectancy at birth in England and Wales (combined) increased between the periods 2006–08 and 2010–12, from 77.8 to 79.1 years for males and 81.9 to 82.9 years for females. The increase for males was greater than that for females causing the gender difference in life expectancy to narrow over time.
Life expectancy was higher in England than in Wales in every period examined and the difference between both countries was greater for males than for females. In England, male life expectancy increased from 77.9 years in 2006–08 to 79.2 years in 2010–12. For females, the corresponding increase was from 82.0 to 83.0 years. Over the same period, life expectancy at birth increased in Wales from 77.0 to 78.2 years for males and from 81.3 to 82.2 years for females.
|England and Wales||77.8||78.1||78.4||78.8||79.1|
|England and Wales||81.9||82.2||82.4||82.8||82.9|
In England and Wales, life expectancy for men at age 65 increased from 17.6 years in 2006–08 to 18.5 years in 2010–12. For females, the corresponding increase was from 20.3 to 21.1 years over the periods. The gender difference in life expectancy narrowed slightly over these periods.
Similar to at birth, life expectancy at age 65 was higher for men and women in England than in Wales in every period examined (see Table 2). Improvements in life expectancy over time were also slightly greater for England than Wales.
|England and Wales||17.6||17.8||18.1||18.3||18.5|
|England and Wales||20.3||20.5||20.7||21.0||21.1|
Life expectancy varied across English regions in each period examined and tended to be higher among those in the south than in the north and midlands.
In 2010–12, life expectancy at birth was highest in the South East (80.3 years) for males and in the South West for females (83.9 years). Conversely, these figures were lowest in the North West for males (77.7 years) and in the North East for females (81.6 years).
Life expectancy was higher for females than males across all regions in each period examined. In addition, this inequality in life expectancy between the sexes was consistently smaller in the South East and East of England than in any other region.
Life expectancy increased in each region between 2006–08 and 2010–12, with London experiencing the greatest improvement for both males (1.6 years) and females (1.2 years). Improvements in other regions varied between 1.1 and 1.5 years for males and 0.8 and 1.1 years for females.
A number of factors have been identified as plausibly being responsible for the excess mortality, and consequently lower life expectancy, in the northern regions of England. These include socioeconomic, environmental (including working conditions), educational, epigenetic, and lifestyle factors, which may act over the whole life course, and possibly over generations (Hacking, Muller and Buchan, 2011).
One factor that has received less attention is the selective migration of healthy individuals from poorer health areas into better health areas or vice-versa. This type of migration has been shown to play a significant role in increasing or decreasing location-specific illness and mortality rates, which then consequently impact on life expectancy figures. Norman, Boyle and Rees (2005) demonstrated that the largest absolute flow within England and Wales between 1971 and 1991 was of relatively healthy people moving from more deprived into less deprived areas. The impact of this migration was to raise ill-health and mortality rates where these people originated from and lower them in the destination areas. The authors also noted that the benefit to less deprived areas was reinforced by a significant group of people in poor health who moved from less to more deprived locations.
Evidence from the pattern of interregional migration between 1991 and 2010 (ONS, 2013b) (454.5 Kb Excel sheet) also suggests that there might be a selective migration effect at play; there was a higher flow of people into southern regions than out while the reverse was the case in the North East and North West. However, it is not possible to quantify the extent to which better health areas are benefiting from selective migration of healthy people since the health status of these migrants is not known.
In a recent study, Hacking, Muller and Buchan (2011) examined trends in mortality across the north-south divide in England over a period of four decades. In addition to the excess deaths observed in northern regions throughout the period, they also noted that 14% of such deaths in 2004–06 were attributed to the prevalence of smoking while 3.5% in 2005 was associated with alcohol consumption. In addition, death rates for potentially avoidable causes, such as certain cancers, respiratory and heart disease, are significantly higher in northern regions than in the south (ONS, 2013c).
|Yorkshire and The Humber||77.1||77.4||77.7||78.1||78.3|
|Yorkshire and The Humber||81.3||81.4||81.7||82.0||82.2|
In 2010–12, life expectancy at age 65 was highest for men in the South East (19.2 years), 1.5 years longer than in the North East with the lowest figure (17.6 years). For women, the comparable figures were 21.7 years in London and 20.0 years in the North East.
In contrast to at birth, the greatest improvement in life expectancy at age 65 between 2006–08 and 2010–12 was observed in the West Midlands for both sexes.
Gender inequality in life expectancy persists at age 65, albeit to a smaller extent than at birth. In addition, this inequality was smaller in the North East and North West than in other regions.
|Yorkshire and The Humber||17.2||17.4||17.6||17.8||18.0|
|Yorkshire and The Humber||19.8||20.0||20.2||20.5||20.5|
The local area life expectancy figures presented in this bulletin are based on the current geographical boundaries.
The local areas with the highest and lowest male and female life expectancy at birth in England and Wales for the periods 2000–02 to 2010–12 are presented in tables 5 and 6 respectively. For the purpose of this bulletin, figures are only presented for the top and bottom ten ranked local areas.
The distribution of life expectancy in England was characterised by a north-south divide, with life expectancy generally being lower among local areas in the north of the country.
In 2010–12, male life expectancy at birth was highest in East Dorset (82.9 years) and lowest in Blackpool (74.0 years). For females, life expectancy at birth was highest in Purbeck at 86.6 years and lowest in Manchester where females could expect to live for 79.5 years. These differences were statistically significant. It is noteworthy that these areas were not always ranked top and bottom respectively in England and Wales. Therefore, the change in inequality in life expectancy is not necessarily a measure of the change in the gap between these specific areas over time.
The difference in male life expectancy between the local areas with the highest and lowest figures stood at 8.9 years in 2010–12. For females, the comparable gap was narrower at 7.1 years.
On average, there was an increase in life expectancy of 1.3 years for males and 1.0 year for females across all local areas between 2006–08 and 2010–12. However, not all areas saw an increase over these periods, with the change in male life expectancy ranging from a decrease of 0.3 years in Fareham to an increase of 3.0 years in Corby. For females, the greatest improvement over these periods was observed in Purbeck (2.7 years) while the greatest decrease was in Harlow (0.7 years).
The distribution of male and female life expectancy at birth by local areas in England and Wales for 2010–12 can be found in maps 1 and 2 respectively below.
In 2010–12, life expectancy for men at age 65 was highest in Harrow (20.9 years) and lowest in Manchester (15.8 years), the area consistently ranked lowest in each of the last five periods.
For women at this age, life expectancy was highest in Camden (23.8 years) and lowest in Blaenau Gwent (18.7 years). These differences were statistically significant. As with at birth, these areas were not consistently ranked as having the highest and lowest life expectancy between the period 2006–08 and 2010–12.
The difference in life expectancy at age 65 between the local areas with the highest and lowest figures was 5.2 years for men and 5.1 years for women.
On average life expectancy at age 65 across all local areas improved by 0.9 year for men and 0.8 years for women between 2006–08 and 2010–12. However, not all areas saw an increase in life expectancy between the two periods. The greatest improvements were in Uttlesford for men and in Camden for women, where life expectancy rose by 2.3 years and 2.4 years respectively. Conversely, the greatest losses over the periods were in Crawley for men (0.5 years) and Kensington and Chelsea for women (0.6 years).
While national estimates of life expectancy provide a snapshot of the mortality experience of a whole population, they do not reveal the heterogeneity of experience within it. As such, favourable averages at national level or even at regional level may be disproportionately influenced by extremes of mortality experience within these areas. As observed from these figures, the inequality in life expectancy becomes more pronounced as the geographical level of analysis becomes more refined.
The distribution of male and female life expectancy at age 65 by local areas in England and Wales for 2010–12 can be found in maps 3 and 4 respectively below.
Life expectancy figures for England and Wales combined, England, Wales, English regions and local areas within both countries are available in two excel workbooks in the Data in this release section.
The workbooks contain:
Life expectancy at birth and at age 65 for local areas in England and Wales (combined and separately), English regions, counties, unitary and local authorities. Data are broken down by sex and available for the periods 1991–93 to 2010–12.
The highest and lowest (top and bottom ten) ranked local areas according to life expectancy at birth and at age 65 respectively. Data are broken down by sex and available for the periods 2000–02 to 2010–12.
Local authorities in England and Wales ranked according to life expectancy at birth and at age 65 respectively. Data are broken down by sex and available for the periods 2000–02 to 2010–12.
Abridged life tables (based on five-year age groups) were constructed using standard methods (Shyrock and Siegel, 1976; Newell, 1994). Separate tables were constructed for males and females using numbers of deaths registered in calendar years and annual mid-year population estimates. A life table template (192.5 Kb Excel sheet) which illustrates the method used to calculate life expectancy (and 95% confidence intervals) for this bulletin, including a description of the notation, can be found on the ONS website.
The 95 per cent confidence interval (CI) for each area was calculated using the revised Chiang method (Chiang II), allowing the calculation of the variance of the mortality rates for those age groups with no deaths registered in the analysis period. This method is the approved standard for ONS outputs of life expectancy at sub-national level ( Toson and Baker, 2003 (288.1 Kb Pdf) ).
All figures presented in this bulletin are period life expectancies. Period expectation of life at a given age for an area in a given time period is an estimate of the average number of years a person of that age would survive if he or she experienced the particular area’s age-specific mortality rates for that time period throughout the rest of his or her life. The figure reflects mortality among those living in the area in each time period, rather than mortality among those born in each area. It is not therefore the number of years a person in the area in each time period could actually expect to live, both because the death rates of the area are likely to change in the future and because many of those in the area may live elsewhere for at least some part of their lives.
Period life expectancy at birth is also not a guide to the remaining expectation of life at any given age. For example, if female life expectancy at birth was 80 years for a particular area, the life expectancy of women aged 65 years in that area is likely to exceed 15 years. This reflects the fact that survival from a particular age depends only on the death rates beyond that age, whereas survival from birth is based on death rates at every age.
Expectations of life can be calculated in two ways: period life expectancy (as presented in this bulletin) and cohort life expectancy.
Cohort life expectancies are calculated using age-specific mortality rates which allow for known or projected changes in mortality in later years and are therefore regarded as a more appropriate measure of how long a person of a given age would be expected to live, on average, than period life expectancy.
For example, period life expectancy at age 65 in 2000 would be worked out using the mortality rate for age 65 in 2000, for age 66 in 2000, for age 67 in 2000, and so on. Cohort life expectancy at age 65 in 2000 would be worked out using the mortality rate for age 65 in 2000, for age 66 in 2001, for age 67 in 2002, and so on.
Period life expectancies are a useful measure of mortality rates actually experienced over a given period and, for past years, provide an objective means of comparison of the trends in mortality over time, between areas of a country and with other countries. Official life tables in the UK and in other countries that relate to past years are generally period life tables for these reasons. Cohort life expectancies, even for past years, usually require projected mortality rates for their calculation and so, in such cases, involve an element of subjectivity.
Further information on period and cohort life expectancies can be found on the ONS website.
Woods LM, Rachet B, Riga M, Stone N, Shah A and Coleman MP (2005) Geographical variation in life expectancy at birth in England and Wales is largely explained by deprivation. J Epidemiol Community Health 2005; 59:115–120 [accessed 5 June 2013]
ECHI (2013) European Community Health Indicators Monitoring (ECHIM) [accessed 5 June 2013]
European Commission (2013) European commission’s policy framework on Social Inclusion and Social Protection - EU Social Indicators [accessed 5 June 2013]
Department of Health (2013) Public Health Outcomes Framework - Healthy lives, healthy people: Improving outcomes and supporting transparency [accessed 6 June 2013]
Department of Health (2012) NHS Outcomes Framework 2013/14 [accessed 6 June 2013]
Griffiths C and Fitzpatrick J (2001) Geographic Inequalities in Life Expectancy in the United Kingdom, 1995–97. Health Statistics Quarterly 09, Spring 2001 (1 Mb Pdf) [accessed 19 June 2013]
Hacking JM, Sara Muller S and Buchan IE (2011) Trends in mortality from 1965 to 2008 across the English north-south divide: comparative observational study. BMJ 2011; 342:d508 [accessed 19 June 2013]
Life table template (192.5 Kb Excel sheet) for calculating life expectancy [accessed 6 June 2013]
Marmot M (2010) Fair Society, Healthy lives - The Marmot Review. Strategic Review of Health Inequalities in England post-2010 [accessed 6 June 2013]
Newell C (1994) Methods and Models in Demography, John Wiley & Sons: Chichester.
ONS (2011) Trends in life expectancy by the National Statistics Socio-economic Classification, 1982–2006 (129.1 Kb Pdf) [accessed 12 June 2013]
ONS (2013a) Interim life tables, 2009-2011 [accessed 6 June 2013]
Norman P, Boyle P and Rees P (2005) Selective migration, health and deprivation: a longitudinal analysis. Social Science & Medicine 2005; 60(12): 2755-2771 [accessed 17 June 2013]
ONS (2013b) Region and Country Profiles, Population and Migration (454.5 Kb Excel sheet) [accessed 18 June 2013]
ONS (2013c) Avoidable Mortality in England and Wales, 2011 [accessed 18 June 2013]
Public Health Wales Observatory (2013) Public Health Strategic Framework - Our Healthy Future (OHF) [accessed 6 June 2013]
Shyrock HS and Siegel JS (1976) The Methods and Materials of Demography (abridged edition), Academic Press: New York.
Toson B and Baker A (2003) Life expectancy at birth: methodological options for small populations. National Statistics Methodological Series No.33 (288.1 Kb Pdf) [accessed 6 June 2013]
All figures presented in this bulletin are three-year averages, produced by aggregating the number of deaths and mid-year population estimates across each three-year period to provide large enough numbers to ensure that the figures presented are sufficiently robust.
Life expectancy figures are based on deaths registered in each calendar year and mid-year population estimates as the denominator. Mid 2002–10 population estimates have been revised in light of the 2011 Census. Data for this period are therefore based on these revised estimates.
The term ‘local area’ refers to local and unitary authorities in England and Wales. Two local areas, City of London and Isles of Scilly, are excluded from the results because of the small numbers of deaths and populations.
To provide comparisons for local area, county and regional figures, national life expectancy results are also included in this bulletin. These were produced using the same method as the sub-national figures (standard abridged life table methods). National figures also produced by ONS based on interim life tables may therefore differ very slightly from those presented in this bulletin.
Figures for England will also differ slightly from the national interim life table results because of a difference in the handling of deaths of non-residents. For this bulletin, the deaths of non-residents have been included in the mortality figures for England and Wales, but are excluded from the data for England and Wales separately. However, for the national interim tables, the deaths of non-residents in England and Wales have been included in the mortality data for England (but not Wales).
In England and Wales deaths should be registered within five days of the death occurring. However, there are some situations which result in the registration of deaths being delayed. Deaths considered unexpected, accidental or suspicious will be referred to a coroner who may request a post mortem or carry out a full inquest to ascertain the reasons for the death. Further information on the impact of registration delays on the quality of mortality statistics can be found on the ONS website
Within this bulletin, a difference which is described as ‘statistically significant’ has been assessed using confidence intervals. Confidence intervals (CIs) are a measure of the statistical precision of an estimate and show the range of uncertainty around it. Calculations based on small numbers of events are often subject to random fluctuations. Significance is assigned on the basis of non-overlapping CIs. While more formalised and accurate methods of significance testing are available, the non-overlapping CI method is used because it is both simple to calculate and easily understood. As a general rule, if the confidence interval around an estimate overlaps with the interval around another, there is no significant difference between the two estimates and vice-versa.
Special extracts and tabulations of mortality data for England and Wales are available to order for a charge (subject to legal frameworks, disclosure control, resources and agreement of costs, where appropriate). Such requests or enquiries should be made to:
Mortality Analysis Team, Life Events and Population Sources Division
Office for National Statistics
Tel: 01633 456491
As a valued user of our statistics, we would welcome feedback on this release. In particular, the content, format and structure. Please send feedback to the postal or email address above
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A list of the names of those given pre-publication access to the statistics and written commentary is available in pre-release access list to Life expectancy in England and Wales, 2010–12. The rules and principles which govern pre-release access are featured within the Pre-release Access to Official Statistics Order 2008.
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Next publication: ONS intends to publish life expectancy figures for local areas in the UK when revised mid-2002 to 2010 population estimates for Scotland become available. The date for this release will be confirmed later in the year.
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|Olugbenga Olatunde||+44 (0)1633 456491||Mortalityfirstname.lastname@example.org|