Life Expectancy Hits Record High

Life expectancy has hit record levels, but there are huge variations in the number of those years spent healthy. A man aged 65 in 2003-5 can expect to live for another 16.6 years – up from 13.2 years 20 years ago, the Office for National Statistics figures showed. Meanwhile, a woman aged 65 can look forward to 19.4 years extra, compared to 17.2 years in 1983-5. However, the ONS report said there were big gaps across the UK in how many years were lived disability-free.

For men, there was 18.3 years difference between the council areas with the highest disability-free life expectancy, Hart in Hampshire at 68.8 years, and the lowest, Easington in Durham at 50.5 years.

Life expectancy at birth has also increased again. Men born in the UK will on average live to almost 77 and women to 81. In 1983-5, life expectancy at birth for men was only 71 and for women 77.

The ONS also compared local council areas to see where people lived longest. All of the top 10 areas are in England, and five are in the South East.

In Scotland, Glasgow is the only part of the country where the men on average die before they are 70. The city also has the lowest life expectancy for women at 76. In contrast, Kensington and Chelsea in west London has the highest life expectancy. Men there live on average to 82 and women to 86.

The ONS revealed death rates related to heart disease, stroke, cancers and respiratory disease increased with deprivation among both sexes.

Danny Dorling, professor of human geography at Sheffield University, said: “The rise in life expectancy is not surprising, it is happening across the developed world. But what is quite unique to the UK is that we are getting more unequal which means for some people those extra years are spent in ill health. In Scandinavian countries and Japan this is not happening and that is because they are more equal.”