Life Expectancy Increasing – Men Catching Up!
Back in 1981, the average life expectancy for men in England and Wales was six years behind women. Since then, a variety of factors has improved the average life expectancy of both men and women, with men reaping the most benefits. They’ve caught up and there is only a two-year gap between the two groups of people.
Of course, on matters such as this, there are official surveys and estimates to try and determine what we might expect around 15 years in the future.
This is normally carried out by the Office of National Statistics (ONS), but a team from the Imperial College London thought that the results were too general and national, as well as being surprisingly despondent.
For example, the ONS survey examines England and Wales together as one big area, whereas the Imperial College team decided to collate the death rates from individual local authorities across the two countries.
Also, where the ONS survey made quite pessimistic assumptions about the future, the team concentrated on lifespan improvements that have occurred over the past few years.
The team explained that statistics varied widely from place to place. Because of this, it would make far more sense for local authorities to have more health and social care responsibility for their own areas.
People living in London had the longest life expectancy, for both the observations and predicted average life expectancies for men and women. What’s more, this is expected to increase by around seven years by 2030.
Men in Blackpool and women in Manchester were seen to fare the worst, with the lowest life expectancies at 75.3 and 80.2 respectively. However, by 2030, the lowest average for men, while still in Blackpool, will be about 81.4, and women will be around 84.5.
The study was published in The Lancet, and from the results, the team interpreted that current life expectancy forecasts have been vastly underestimated, particularly for men. Because of this, the team feels that there is a need to provide better health care, social services, and pensions for elderly people in England and Wales.
However, a representative for the ONS said there was no general agreement about the likely speed of any future improvements in life expectancy. The spokesperson said that future projections are uncertain, which is why the ONS publishes variant projections to illustrate some of that uncertainty and help planning public services in the process.
Brian Beach from the International Longevity Centre said that where people live, as well as other social factors, can influence life expectancy. He added that while one hundred years ago, a 60-year-old would probably have been considered old and frail. He pointed out that in this day and age, someone of that age could be considered happy, healthy, and middle-aged.
Of course, we have no way of knowing what the life expectancy is actually going to be 15 years into the future. But it can’t be a bad thing to be optimistic about – that we’ll all be living happily and healthily into our 90s.