THE CORONAVIRUS pandemic has meant more of us have started to focus on our health and how long we will live for.
How long we live can depend on a number of factors including our lifestyle, our background and our sex.
Data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) has stated that life expectancy has improved over the last five years.
Here we give you the lowdown on how long you can expect to be around for.
1. What is the UK life expectancy?
The most recent data from the ONS, published in September this year states that life expectancy at birth in the UK in 2017 to 2019 was 79.4 years for males and 83.1 years for females.
The report states that England, Wales and Scotland have among the lowest annual improvements in life expectancy at birth for both males and females.
It found that slight improvements were observed from 2016 to 2018 of 6.3 weeks and 7.3 weeks for males and females respectively.
The ONS report states that if people over the age of 65 were to experience the same age-specific mortality rates seen in 2017 to 2019 for the rest of their lives, a 65-year-old male could expect to live on average for a further 18.8 years and a female for 21.1 years.
It states: “This represents the highest life expectancies at age 65 years ever observed in the UK.
“However, as with life expectancy at birth, life expectancy at age 65 years in the UK has been improving at a slower rate since 2011 compared with previous decades.”
2.Why is life expectancy different for men and women?
Data from Our World in Data shows that in most places, women live longer than men. But this is different from place to place.
The difference in chromosomes between men and women also affects mortality.
Men tend to have more fat surrounding their organs which can lead to health conditions. Women tend to have more fat sitting under the skin.
This is determined by estrogen and the presence of the second X chromosome in females.
This matters because fat surrounding the organs is a key factor in cardiovascular diseases.
Biological differences cover just one part of the story though and data shows that lifestyle choices also have a big impact on life expectancy between men and women.
For example, men tend to smoke more – therefore increasing their risk of illness.
The most recent ONS report states: “A possible explanation for the convergence of life expectancy improvements between the sexes is that, following decades of healthier lifestyles and safer working conditions, males have narrowed the life expectancy gap with females to 3.7 years.
“Throughout the 20th century, the proportion of the agricultural and manufacturing workforce has been in decline.
“These jobs, which are more dangerous and require more physical labour, have proportionally moved to the service sector, which is generally safer and less physical.”
The report also highlights that there has been a reduction in the amount of men smoking.
3.Where in the world is life expectancy highest?
Life expectancy differs from place to place and in many places, women tend to live longer than men.
For example Russian women live 10 years longer than men, whereas in Bhutan the difference is less than half a year.
Japan tops the list when it comes to life expectancy and has the highest with close to 85 years.
In 2019 the life expectancy in Australia, Italy, Spain and Switzerland was 83 years.
4.What's my life expectancy?
National life expectancies are recorded by stats organisations like the ONS, who also keep tabs on national birth and death rates.
Of course, life expectancies are averages – so won't hold true for everyone.
Your lifestyle, diet, weight, genetic make-up and wealth could all affect how long you will actually live for, with luck also playing a big role.
Some insurance providers also offer personal life expectancy calculators which you can use to get an expectancy tailored to your lifestyle.
5) Does living in London shorten your life?
Many people move to the capital to pursue career opportunities but it can also come with extra risks and challenges.
The city is considerably more polluted than other areas due to a combination of air and road traffic.
London is served by several airports including Heathrow, Stansted, Gatwick and City airport – with planes flying across the city all day.
Research highlights that in London life expectancy can be cut short by around four months.
Air pollution in London has reached critical levels in the last few years – but had come down slightly due to a reduction in travel during the coronavirus pandemic.
Charities have previously stated that the government needs to do more when it comes to making sure that Brits are breathing in clean air.
Asthma UK said that the Government should use the Environment Bill to set world-leading legal limits on PM2.5 (particular matter , in line with World Health Organisation guidelines. These must also be met by 2030 so we can all breathe clean air with healthy lungs.
Edward Morgan, Centre for Ageing and Demography, ONS said the improvements in life expectancy at birth for males and females in the UK between 2016 to 2018 and 2017 to 2019 were the highest annual improvements for five years.
Despite this, he says, this is lower than the historical improvements prior to 2011
He said: "The gap in annual improvements in life expectancy at birth between males and females has been narrowing since 2013 to 2015.
“In 2017 to 2019, female life expectancy improvements were seen to slightly exceed those for males for the first time since the start of the published data series in 1981 to 1983.
“However, it is too early to say whether this is a trend that will continue into the future.”
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