What is life expectancy? Life expectancy (ex) is the number of years that a person can expect to live, on average, in a given population. The Office for National Statistics (ONS) produces life expectancy statistics for the United Kingdom using different methods, and in a variety of formats. This guide provides a summary of the statistics which are available and where you can find them. They can all be accessed free of charge on the ONS website. National life expectancy Decennial life tables Published once every ten years, decennial life tables are associated with the decennial population censuses, beginning with the census of 1841. Life expectancy figures are presented in three-year periods around each census year (where possible). A three-year period is normally of sufficient length to smooth out most of the effect if the mortality of the census year happens to be unusual. Decennial life tables show the increasing longevity of the population over time and they can be compared with the experience of other countries and populations. The latest edition (English Life Tables No. 16) is based on the mortality experience of the England and Wales population during the years 2000, 2001 and 2002. A methodology document which describes the calculations is available on the ONS website. The latest decennial life tables for each of the UK's constituent countries are also available in separate Microsoft Excel reference tables. Interim life tables Interim life tables are produced annually for the United Kingdom, Great Britain, England and Wales, England, Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland. The tables provide period life expectancy for males and females by single year of age (0 to100), for three-year rolling periods from 1980–82 onwards. The tables are available in separate Microsoft Excel reference tables for each country. The tables also contain information on the notation and methodology used to calculate the tables. Interim life tables can be used to find the average life expectancy at a particular age and period in time. For example, to find the life expectancy of males and females aged 18 years living in the United Kingdom during the 2008–10 period, see the screenshot below. The tables show that males and females aged 18 can expect to live a further 60.63 years and 64.63 years respectively if the mortality rates during 2008–10 were experienced for the rest of their lives (but mortality rates are projected to improve in the future, so they will probably live longer).
The interim life tables can also be used to look at changes in life expectancy over time. For example, to compare the life expectancy of males and females aged 18 in 2008–10 with those aged 18 in 1988–90, see the screenshot below.
The tables show that life expectancy at age 18 in 1988–90 was 55.69 years for males and 61.07 years for females, 4.94 years and 3.56 years respectively shorter than the life expectancy of males and females aged 18 in 2008–10. This shows how mortality rates have improved over time. Period and cohort life expectancy Period and cohort life expectancy statistics for males and females by single year of age (0 to 95) for the United Kingdom, Great Britain, England and Wales, England, Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland for 1981 to 2060 (individual years) are available. These are based on actual death rates from 1981 to 2010 and projected
death rates from the 2010-based national population projections. The projections are updated every two years. To find the life expectancy of a female aged 18 in the United Kingdom in 2020 using period and cohort life tables, see the screen shots below. 2010-based period life expectancy, females
2010-based cohort life expectancy, females
The period life table shows that a female aged 18 in 2020 could expect to live 67.0 years. However, the cohort life table shows that the same person could expect to live 75.1 years. This difference is because the...