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Video Summary: Trends in National Health Expectancies, 2008-10

Released: 29 August 2012

Transcript – Health expectancies

Slide 1

This is a short video by the Office for National Statistics, looking at health expectancies for countries in the UK.

Slide 2

Life Expectancy tells us about longevity, and is defined as the average number of years left to live, from a given age.

For example, for males in the UK born between 2008 and 2010, life expectancy approached 80 years, whilst men aged 65 could expect to live for around another 18 years.

Associated with Life Expectancy, are Health Expectancies. These tell us about the quality of life, showing how much longer a population can expect to spend in a given state of health.

Two measures of health expectancy are produced by ONS. Firstly, healthy life expectancy, appearing as a blue line, tells us how long a population can expect to live in good health. For males at birth in the UK, again according to 2008-10 data, healthy life expectancy was 63 years – a little over 80 per cent of life with good health. At age 65, healthy life expectancy was around 10 years - almost 60 per cent of remaining life with good health.

Secondly, disability free life expectancy, appearing as an orange line, tells us how long a population can expect to live without a limiting chronic illness or disability.

For males in the UK, this measure produces very similar results to healthy life expectancy. For other populations - females in Wales for example - more variation is seen between them. 

Slide 3

Here, we will look at national estimates for the 2008-10 period. Focusing on males at birth, and zooming in firstly on England, life expectancy was 78 years, whilst healthy life expectancy and disability-free life expectancy both approached 65 years.

In Wales these figures were lower. Life expectancy was 77 and a half years, with both healthy life expectancy and disability-free life expectancy below 64 years. Figures for Scotland and Northern Ireland were the lowest in the UK, with health expectancies of around 60 years. 

Slide 4

Now if we look at the situation for females, again starting with England, life and health expectancies were greater than in any other UK country; life expectancy was 82 years, whilst healthy and disability free life expectancy were 66 and 65 and a half years respectively. Scotland showed the next highest health and disability-free life expectancies, both just over 64 years.

Comparing females with males, life and health expectancies tend to be higher, but the gap between both types of measure tends to be greater, which means that females spend less of their lives in favourable health than males.

Slide 5

Life expectancy has long been on the rise. Vital to communities and government is the question of whether we are spending a greater proportion of life in good or poor health.

Looking at trends in health expectancies over time can help us to answer this question.

Slide 6

First we’ll look at how estimates of life expectancy and healthy life expectancy have changed for males born between 2005-7 and 2008-10. Here you can see that life expectancy has increased over time by almost a year. Healthy life expectancy has also risen over this period by a little over 2 years.

As healthy life expectancy has outpaced life expectancy over time, males born between 2008 and 2010 can therefore expect to live longer, and spend a greater proportion of their lives in good health compared to males born between 2005 and 2007. 

Looking at the same comparison for females, we can see that the same thing is happening. Life expectancy has risen by over half a year, and during the same time, healthy life expectancy has increased by 2.8 years.

So, from birth, life and healthy life expectancy are converging, so there is evidence for the compression of morbidity over time; males and females are staying healthy for longer.

To find more on health expectancies, including the latest data, please visit

This video is no longer available following the closure of the ONS YouTube channel

Source: Office for National Statistics

Background notes

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