Life expectancy gender gap will close in England and Wales, study predicts

BMJ 2015; 350 doi: (Published 30 April 2015) Cite this as: BMJ 2015;350:h2322
  1. Susan Mayor
  1. 1London

Life expectancy will reach 85.7 years in men and 87.6 years in women in England and Wales by 2030, narrowing the gap in life expectancy between the sexes from six years in 1981 to only 1.9 years, a study published in the Lancet has predicted.

Researchers analysed current mortality patterns by studying trends from 1981 to 2012 to forecast life expectancy among 375 of the 376 local authority districts in England and Wales through to 2030.1

During that period life expectancy at birth increased by 8.2 years in men to 79.5 years (95% credible interval 79.5 to 79.6) and by 6.0 years in women to 83.3 years (83.3 to 83.4). But the analysis showed differences in life expectancy between districts, ranging from 75.2 years to 83.4 in men and from 80.2 years to 87.3 in women.

Life expectancy in 2012 was lowest in urban northern England, where Blackpool had the lowest male life expectancy at 75.2 years and Middlesbrough and Manchester had the lowest female expectancy at 80.2 years. In contrast, life expectancies were higher in southern England: the City of London had the highest among men (83.4 years) and also women (87.3 years).

The modelling study predicted that, by 2030, national life expectancy will reach 85.7 years (84.2 to 87.4) in men and 87.6 years (86.7 to 88.9) in women, reducing the gap between the sexes to 1.9 years. Most of the gains in longevity will occur in people over 65, the study calculated.

Inequality in longevity across districts is forecast to rise steadily among both sexes, so that men and women above the 99th centile of the districts’ life expectancies will live 8.3 years longer than those below the first centile.

“Present forecasts underestimate the expected rise in life expectancy, especially for men,” said Majid Ezzati, lead author from Imperial College London, UK—as previous estimates had extrapolated from past trends in death rates, which may have underestimated likely gains in life expectancy.

“Our national forecasts of life expectancy in 2030 are higher than official figures from the Office for National Statistics, by 2.4 years for men and 1.0 years for women, meaning that pensions will have larger pay-outs than planned, and health and social services will have to serve an even older population than currently planned,” he concluded.


Cite this as: BMJ 2015;350:h2322


View Abstract

Log in

Log in through your institution


* For online subscription