Past and projected period and cohort life tables, 2018-based, UK: 1981 to 2068

Life expectancy (eₓ), probability of dying (qₓ) and numbers surviving (lₓ) from the period and cohort life tables, past and projected, for the UK and constituent countries.

This is the latest release. View previous releases

This is an accredited national statistic.

Contact:
Email Edward Morgan

Release date:
2 December 2019

Next release:
To be announced

1. Main points

  • Baby boys born in the UK in 2018 can expect to live on average to age 87.6 years and girls to age 90.2 years, taking into account projected changes in mortality patterns over their lifetime.

  • In 25 years, cohort life expectancy at birth in the UK is projected to increase by 2.8 years to reach 90.4 years for boys and by 2.4 years to 92.6 years for girls born in 2043.

  • People aged 65 years in the UK in 2018 can expect to live on average a further 19.9 years for males and 22.0 years for females, projected to rise to 22.2 years for males and 24.2 years for females in 2043.

  • In 2043 in the UK, 20.8% of newborn boys and 26.1% of newborn girls are expected to live to at least 100 years of age, an increase from 13.6% for boys and 18.2% for girls born in 2018.

  • In comparison with the 2016-based projections, cohort life expectancy at birth is 2.6 years lower for males and 2.7 years lower for females in 2043 than previously projected.

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2. Things you need to know about this release

Our period and cohort life tables give historical and projected statistics by single year of age and sex, from 1981 to 2018 and then 50 years into the future to 2068. They are produced biennially for the UK based on the assumptions for future mortality from the national population projections (NPP). This release relates to the 2018-based NPP published on 21 October 2019.

Period life expectancies use mortality rates from a single year (or group of years) and assume that those rates apply throughout the remainder of a person's life. This means that any subsequent changes to mortality rates would not be taken into account. A period life expectancy is therefore the average number of additional years a person would live if he or she experienced the age-specific mortality rates of the given area and time period for the rest of their life.

For example, a period life expectancy at age 65 years in 2018 would use the observed mortality rates for 2018 for ages 65, 66 and 67 years and so on. A period life expectancy at age 65 years in 2025 would use the projected mortality rates for 2025 for ages 65, 66 and 67 years and so on.

Cohort life expectancies make allowances for future changes in mortality by taking into account observed and projected improvements in mortality for the cohort throughout its lifetime. For example, cohort life expectancy at age 65 years in 2018 would be worked out using the observed mortality rate for age 65 years in 2018 and the projected mortality rates for age 66 years in 2019, for age 67 years in 2020 and so on.

Cohort life expectancy at age 65 years in 2025 would be worked out using the projected mortality rates for age 65 years in 2025, for age 66 years in 2026, for age 67 years in 2027 and so on. In this bulletin cohort life expectancies have been used for the main projection figures, because these are regarded as a more realistic measure of how long a person of a given age would be expected to live on average than period figures.

In this respect, cohort life expectancy helps inform policy-makers of the best way to deliver public services. For example, the setting of the State Pension age or the appropriate quantity of social care services to provide. For individuals, these statistics can be used to predict the likelihood they might survive to a given age and as such act as a powerful indicator of health patterns at the population level. To some, cohort life expectancy can be a more meaningful measure of life expectancy, as the alternative measure – period life expectancy – is often more reflective of the population health of the past rather than the present.

A more detailed explanation of the difference between period and cohort life expectancies can be found in Period and cohort life expectancy explained.

It should be noted the projections are not forecasts and will inevitably differ to a greater or lesser extent from actual realised future figures. The further ahead from the projection base year (2018) the more uncertain the projection becomes.

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3. How long can you expect to live?

Enter your details into our life expectancy calculator for the UK to find out how long you are expected to live given assumed future mortality improvements (your cohort life expectancy). You can also find out your chances of surviving to age 100 years.

Life expectancy calculator

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Source: Office for National Statistics
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5. What are the high and low variants of projected cohort life expectancy?

Variant projections of cohort life expectancy have been produced to illustrate how life expectancy may change under different future scenarios by assuming different levels of annual improvements in mortality. These projections of cohort life expectancy at birth are shown in Figures 5 and 6.

The high life expectancy variant, which assumes greater improvements in mortality in the long-term than the principal projection, projects cohort life expectancy to increase by 4.1 years to 96.3 years for males and by 3.6 years to 98.1 years for females in 25 years' time, in 2043.

The low life expectancy variant, which assumes very little improvement in mortality and has a lower value of life expectancy in 2018 than the principal variant, projects cohort life expectancy to increase by 0.1 years for both sexes to 80.9 years for males and 84.1 years for females in 2043.

The variant projections are explained in further detail in the national population projections mortality assumptions article.

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6. How is life expectancy projected to change among the UK constituent countries?

England had the highest cohort life expectancy at birth among the constituent countries of the UK in 2018, while Scotland had the lowest. For males, the gap between cohort life expectancy at birth between England and Scotland was 1.9 years; for females, it was 1.7 years in 2018. This gap is projected to narrow to 1.4 years and 1.2 for males and females respectively by 2068 (Table 1).

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7. How has life expectancy changed for those aged 65?

Cohort life expectancy at age 65 in the UK in 2018 was a further 19.9 years for males and 22.0 years for females. In 25 years’ time, by 2043, cohort life expectancy at age 65 years is projected to be 22.2 for UK males and 24.2 for UK females. This is an increase of 2.3 years for males and 2.2 years for females.

This is 1.1 years lower for both sexes compared with the 2016-based projections, which projected cohort life expectancy at age 65 years in 2043 at 23.3 years and 25.3 years for males and females respectively (Figures 7 and 8).

Although the 2018-based projections of life expectancy are lower than in the 2016-based projections, as for life expectancy at birth, life expectancy at age 65 years is still projected to continue to increase from 2018. The lower projections of life expectancy over time reflect the higher mortality rates observed in recent years than were previously projected and the projected lower rates of mortality improvement at older ages. A more detailed explanation of this is presented in the national population projections mortality assumptions article.

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8. Quality and methodology

This release contains tables of life expectancy (ex), probability of death (qx) and numbers of persons surviving (lx) from the 2018-based national population projections (NPP). These tables contain historical and projected figures for 1981 to 2068 on a period and cohort basis from life tables calculated using observed and projected deaths and population estimates and projections.

The definitions of life expectancy (ex), probability of death (qx) and numbers of persons surviving (lx) are as follows:

  • qx is the mortality rate between age x and (x + 1), that is, the probability that a person aged x exactly will die before reaching age (x + 1)

  • lx is the number of survivors to exact age x of 100,000 live births of the same sex who are assumed to be subject throughout their lives to the mortality rates experienced in the year or years to which the life table relates

  • ex is the average expectation of life at exactly age x, that is, the average number of years that those aged x exactly will live thereafter

A more detailed explanation of the difference between period and cohort life expectancies can be found in Period and cohort life expectancy explained.

Further explanation and guidance on how to use the data published in the past and projected period and cohort life tables is available in our Guide to interpreting past and projected period and cohort life tables.

Mortality projections are based largely on extrapolation of past trends in rates of mortality improvement. Expert opinion is used to inform the assumptions made about future mortality rates. Information on the assumption setting process for future mortality patterns is available in the mortality assumptions chapter of the NPP publication.

The National life tables Quality and Methodology Information report and the National population projections Quality and Methodology Information report contain important information on:

  • the strengths and limitations of the data and how it compares with related data

  • uses and users

  • how the output was created

  • the quality of the output including the accuracy of the data

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