In the period 2015 to 2017, males in the UK had a life expectancy (LE) of 79.2 years at birth while females had a life expectancy of 82.9 years.
Male life expectancy (LE) at birth increased by seven months since 2009 to 2011 while female LE increased by four months only.
The region of London improved its life expectancy at birth more quickly than other regions since 2001 to 2003 (the start of the life expectancy series) and in 2015 to 2017 had the highest life expectancy in the UK for females and the second-highest for males.
The London Borough of Camden had the highest life expectancy at birth for females across all local authority areas of the UK.
In the UK in 2015 to 2017, healthy life expectancy (HLE) at birth was 63.1 years for males and for females was 63.6 years.
Female HLE at birth in the UK decreased by three months since 2009 to 2011 (the start of the HLE time series) while HLE for males increased by five months over the same period.
HLE at birth across local authority areas of the UK varies by 21.5 years for females and 15.8 years for males in 2015 to 2017.
“Overall, across the UK, females can expect to live a greater number of years in poor health than males, partly because female healthy life expectancy has slightly fallen while male healthy life expectancy has increased. At birth males in the UK can expect to live 16.5 years with a disability and females 20.9 years. However, it is important to note that periods of ill-health may not be experienced during the same point in a person’s life, and the majority of years lived with disability for most occur post-retirement age. For example, a person may be seriously unwell, but recover and remain healthy for a long period before becoming unwell again.”
Asim Butt, Senior Research Officer, Office for National StatisticsBack to table of contents
This bulletin reports on life expectancy estimates for local authority areas across the UK, in addition to constituent countries and English regions, from 2001 to 2003 and 2015 to 2017. It also includes healthy life expectancy (HLE) and disability-free life expectancy (DFLE) for males and females, at birth and at age 65 years, for these areas over these periods:
- Constituent countries in the UK, English regions and upper tier local authority areas (UTLAs) in England from 2009 to 2011 to 2015 to 2017
- local authority areas in Scotland and Northern Ireland from 2013 to 2015 to 2015 to 2017
- local authority areas in Wales from 2011 to 2013 to 2015 to 2017
- Metropolitan Counties, Combined Authorities and Welsh Health Boards from 2011 to 2013 to 2015 to 2017
These estimates are available in datasets and include confidence intervals to assist users in making judgments about the statistical significance of period-specific differences and changes over time.
We have revised healthy life expectancy and disability-free life expectancy estimates using a new method agreed following a consultation in December 2017 to February 2018.
To better analyse the slowdown in life expectancy observed since 2011, several comparisons are made in this bulletin. These mainly contrast the gain in life expectancy at birth between 2001 to 2003 and 2008 to 2010 compared against the gain between 2009 to 2011 and 2015 to 2017.
Dynamic interactive maps are available for tracking an area’s life expectancy over time using a national ranking of local authority areas. Local authority areas include lower tier local authorities (LTLAs) in England, unitary authorities in Wales, council areas in Scotland and local government districts in Northern Ireland.
Each local authority area’s ranking of life expectancy applies to a specific time-period, but their relative move upwards or downwards provides a guide to how well they are performing on this measure against other areas. The ranking thereby acts as a tool to benchmark itself with other local authority areas over time. However, if you wish to more objectively compare the improvement in life expectancy across the time series between areas, you would need to take into account the confidence intervals provided in the pivot table.
Local authority areas with small populations, such as Orkney Islands, have been included in the datasets but tend to have a wider confidence interval than areas with larger populations such as Essex.
We have also revised the subnational health state life expectancy estimates for local authority areas in England and Wales from 2012 to 2016 and, for life expectancy only, Scotland’s local authority areas from 2002 to 2010, to take account of published revisions to their mid-year population estimates.
The median and modal ages at death for 2015 to 2017 have also been calculated and are provided separately in an attached dataset.
The life expectancy estimates reported in this release are period life expectancies. This is a measure of the average number of years a person would live from a given age, if he or she experienced the particular area’s age-specific mortality rates for that time period throughout his or her life. This measure makes no allowance for any future actual or projected changes in mortality. In practice, a population’s death rates are likely to change in the future, and individuals move between areas, so period life expectancy does not give the number of years someone will actually live.
Healthy life expectancy (HLE) is an estimate of the number of years lived in “Very good” or “Good” general health, based on how individuals perceive their general health. Disability-free life expectancy (DFLE) is an estimate of the number of years lived without a long-lasting physical or mental health condition that limits daily activities.Back to table of contents
Figures 1 and 2 compare the gain in life expectancy at birth between 2001 to 2003 and 2008 to 2010, with that between 2009 to 2011 and 2015 to 2017 across the constituent countries of the UK for both males and females.
For males in Wales, the gain in life expectancy was less than half a year between 2009 to 2011 and 2015 to 2017, compared with two years in the previous period. All constituent countries saw their rate of improvement in life expectancy fall in the later period compared with the previous period. This is consistent with the evidence accumulated pointing to substantial reductions in life expectancy improvements.
For females the picture is similar, with Wales having the smallest increase in the most recent period of only 0.2 years, but all constituent countries improving less quickly between 2009 to 2011 and 2015 to 2017 than in the first decade of the century.Back to table of contents
Table 1 shows male life expectancy at birth for England’s regions between 2001 to 2003 and 2015 to 2017. This table confirms that London has had the largest improvement in life expectancy compared with other regions in England since 2001 to 2003. While London was ranked fifth at the start of the 21st century, it is now ranked second, with males gaining 4.5 years of life.
London’s trajectory is in sharp relief to the South West region, which was ranked first in 2001 to 2003, but in the latest period was ranked fourth, with males gaining only 2.8 years.
|2001 to 2003||2015 to 2017|
|English regions||Life expectancy (years)||Life expectancy rank||Life expectancy (years)||Life expectancy|
|East of England||77.3||3||80.4||3|
Download this table.xlsx .csv
In 2015 to 2017, London was ranked first for life expectancy at birth for females, having risen from fourth in 2001 to 2003 (Table 2). The gain in London was 3.5 years. In 2001 to 2003, female life expectancy in the South West was ranked first. However, by 2015 to 2017 it was ranked third, explained by it gaining only two years over that interval, the least gain across all regions.
|2001 to 2003||2015 to 2017|
|English Regions||Life expectancy|
|East of England||81.4||3||83.7||4|
Download this table.xlsx .csv
Figures 3 and 4 show the gain in life expectancy at birth for each of England's regions for both males and females. These figures emphasise that there is a pronounced slowdown in life expectancy across all regions during the second decade of the 21st century; however, London’s gain exceeded that of all other regions.
Between 2009 to 2011 and 2015 to 2017, male life expectancy at birth increased by 1.3 years in London (Figure 3). West Midlands and North East both recorded the least gain in life expectancy at birth for males, at 0.5 years. In 2015 to 2017, the difference in the gain in life expectancy between London region and West Midlands and North East was 0.8 years.
This indicates that the slowdown in improvement in life expectancy observed nationally in the second decade of the 21st century was less visable in London than elsewhere. This was also reflected at local area level, in that a high proportion of London boroughs had a statistically significant improvement in their life expectancy at birth since 2009 to 2011.
For females, the gain in life expectancy at birth across the nine English regions is smaller than observed for males. However, London also showed the highest gain in life expectancy (1.0 years) between 2009 to 2011 and 2015 to 2017. In contrast, the South West and North East both had the lowest gain in life expectancy at birth, gaining only 0.2 years.Back to table of contents
If the UK experienced the same self-reported health and mortality rates that were observed during 2015 to 2017, males could expect to live 63.1 years in good health (79.7% of their life) and females 63.6 years (76.7% of their life).
When compared with the earliest period 2009 to 2011, HLE at birth has increased by 0.4 years for males and reduced by 0.2 years for females in the UK. This has the effect of closing the gender gap in years lived in good health to 0.5 years in 2015 to 2017 from 1.1 years in 2009 to 2011.
For each sex, the years lived in “Not Good” health has increased both in relative and in absolute terms, because life expectancy has risen more quickly than healthy life expectancy. This is consistent with a scenario of increasing prevalence of ill-health in the UK since 2009 to 2011, as the years of life gained were spent in less favourable health states.
The gender gap in years lived in “Not Good” health for females compared with males has increased to 3.2 additional years, because of the coexistence of female healthy life expectancy falling and male healthy life expectancy rising. However, both sexes have seen their years lived in “Not Good” health increase. For males, it increased by 0.3 years, but for females it grew more substantially, by 0.7 years.
Healthy life expectancy (HLE) and disability-free life expectancy (DFLE) across constituent countries in the UK between 2009 to 2011 and 2015 to 2017 can be accessed in the accompanying datasets. The trend in DFLE is not reported on because of changes in the survey questions used to estimate disability in the Annual Population Survey (APS) between 2009 to 2011 and 2015 to 2017.
However, it is important to note that DFLE estimates for the period 2014 to 2016 and 2015 to 2017 are based on the latest harmonised standard questions exclusively for the first time. More information is available in the health state life expectancies Quality and Methodology Information report.Back to table of contents
When looking at disability-free life expectancy (DFLE) at birth for males, disability-free life years were lowest in Wales (59.9 years) and highest in England (63.1 years), with a 3.2-year gap.
If Wales experienced the same self-reported rates of disability and mortality that were observed during 2015 to 2017, males could expect to live 18.4 years with an activity limiting long-term physical or mental health condition, whereas in England it was 16.5 years. Consequently, males in England not only have a longer life than males in Wales, they were also living fewer years with disability and thereby spend a higher proportion of their lives disability-free (Table 4).
DFLE at age 65 years is an important summary measure as it informs fitness for work after the current State Pension age of 65 years. DFLE at age 65 years was highest in England (9.9 years) and lowest in Wales (8.5 years). In both countries men at age 65 years could expect to live a further 8.9 and 9.7 years respectively with an activity limiting long-term physical or mental health condition. Men in all four constituent countries are expected to spend less than half their remaining life disability-free from age 65 years.
|Years in 'Not|
|At age 65|
Download this table.xlsx .csv
When looking at DFLE at birth for females, disability-free life years were lowest in Wales (59.5 years) and highest in England (62.2 years), with a 2.7 year gap. Females in Wales were expected to live 22.8 years with a limiting long-term physical or mental health condition, whereas in England it was 21.0 years. Consequently, females in England have a longer life than females in Wales and spend a higher proportion of their lives disability-free (Table 5).
At birth, females across all countries spend a smaller proportion of their lives disability-free than in good health, and also a smaller proportion than males.
For women at age 65 years, DFLE was highest in England (9.8 years) and lowest in Wales (8.7 years). In Scotland, women at age 65 years can expect to live 10.0 years with a limiting long-term physical or mental health condition, whereas in Wales, it was 11.8 years. Women in Wales at age 65 years could expect to spend only 42.5% of their remaining life disability-free. However, across all constituent countries, females at age 65 years spend less than half their remaining years disability-free.
Females born in England in 2015 to 2017, are expected to live 1.2 more years in good health and 1.0 more years in “Not Good” health compared to females born in Scotland. Females and males living in Scotland spend the highest proportion of life in “Good” health, despite having the lowest life expectancy.
|Years in 'Not|
|At age 65|
Download this table.xlsx .csv
Figure 8 shows that the local area gap in healthy life expectancy at age 65 across local authorities in the UK differs by 11.0 years for women and 9.5 years for men.
Furthermore, of the four devolved nations, the biggest disparity in healthy life expectancy at age 65 years can be seen in England where females differ by 11.0 years and males differ by 9.4 years. Wales had the least disparity in healthy life expectancy for females showing a difference of 5.8 years and Scotland had the least for males, at 5.7 years.
Across the UK in 2015 to 2017, healthy life expectancy (HLE) at age 65 years was highest in Sutton for males (15.7 years) and Southwark for females (17.8 years). The lowest HLE was observed in Merthyr Tydfil in Wales for males (6.1 years) and in Nottingham for females (6.8 years). The gap in HLE between local authority areas stood at 11 years for females and 9.5 years for males.
Figure 9 shows healthy life expectancy at birth and at age 65 years by sex for upper tier local authorities in England from 2009 to 2011 and 2015 to 2017. This provides the opportunity to compare the improvement in healthy life expectancy at important ages against the national average over time.
Figure 9: Healthy life expectancy at birth and age 65 by sex, England, 2009 to 2011 and 2015 to 2017
The Health state life expectancies Quality and Methodology Information report contains important information on:
- the strengths and limitations of the data and how it compares with related data
- uses and users of the data
- how the output was created
- the quality of the output including the accuracy of the data
Contact details for this Statistical bulletin
Telephone: +44 (0)1633 456305