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UK Interim Life Tables, 1980-82 to 2008-10

Released: 29 September 2011 Download PDF

Life expectancy at birth, UK, 1980-82 to 2008-2010

from period life tables

Interim life tables: Life expectancy at birth in the UK, 1980-82 to 2008-2010
Source: Office for National Statistics

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Life expectancy at birth in the UK has reached its highest level on record for both males and females. A newborn baby boy could expect to live 78.1 years and a newborn baby girl 82.1 years if mortality rates remain the same as they were in 2008–10.

The chart shows that females continue to live longer than males, but the gap has been closing. Although both sexes have shown annual improvements in life expectancy at birth, over the past 28 years the gap has narrowed from 6.0 years to 4.1 years. Based on mortality rates in 1980–82, 26 per cent of newborn males would die before age 65, but this had reduced to 15 per cent based on 2008–10 rates. The equivalent figures for newborn females were 16 per cent in 1980–82 and 10 per cent in 2008–10.

Life expectancy at age 65 – the number of further years someone reaching 65 in 2008–10 could expect to live – is also higher for women than for men. Based on 2008–10 mortality rates, a man aged 65 could expect to live another 17.8 years, and a woman aged 65 another 20.4 years. The difference between male and female life expectancy in the UK at age 65 has decreased from four years in 1980-82 to 2.6 years in 2008-10.

Within the UK, life expectancy varies by country. England has the highest life expectancy at birth, 78.4 years for males and 82.4 years for females, while Scotland has the lowest, 75.8 years for males and 80.3 years for females. Life expectancy at age 65 is also higher in England than for the other countries of the UK.

Life expectancy at birth and at age 65, UK and constituent countries, 2008-2010

  At birth At age 65
Males Females Males Females
United Kingdom 78.1 82.1 17.8 20.4
England 78.4 82.4 18.0 20.6
Wales 77.5 81.7 17.5 20.1
Scotland 75.8 80.3 16.6 19.2
Northern Ireland 77.0 81.4 17.3 20.1

Table source: Office for National Statistics

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The largest increases in life expectancy at birth since 2007-09 were seen for Scottish and Welsh males, each with an increase of 0.4 years to 75.8 and 77.5 respectively. All countries within the UK have seen a year on year reduction in the difference between male and female life expectancy at birth. In 2008-10 Scotland has the largest difference between male and female life expectancy at birth at 4.6 years.

The life expectancy figures above make no allowance for future changes in mortality. If the UK continues to see improving mortality rates, especially at older ages, life expectancy at birth and at age 65 will continue to increase for both males and females in future years.

Source: Office for National Statistics

Background notes

  1. Figures in the table are rounded to one decimal place.

  2. All figures are ‘period’ life expectancies. This is 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. Therefore it is not the number of years someone in the area in that time period is actually likely to live, both because the death rates of the area are likely to change and because people may live in other areas for at least part of their lives. Life expectancies that allow for actual or projected changes in mortality during a person’s lifetime are known as ‘cohort’ life expectancies.

  3. The period life expectancy figures are taken from the Interim Life Tables, which are available from: ‘Interim Life Tables.’ These are produced annually for the UK and its constituent countries. Each table is based on the population estimates and death registration data for a period of three consecutive years. This helps to reduce the affects of annual fluctuations in the number of deaths caused by seasonal events such as flu.
  4. Details of the policy governing the release of new data are available by visiting or from the Media Relations Office email:

    These National Statistics are produced to high professional standards and released according to the arrangements approved by the UK Statistics Authority.

Further information

English Life Tables - Life tables giving period life expectancy figures for England and Wales. Published every ten years after a census, since the 1841 Census.
Guide to calculating national life tables - A brief guide to the method used by ONS to calculate national life tables.
Older People's Day 2011 - Product description

Content from the Office for National Statistics.
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