• a statistical tool that can be used to predict life expectancy at various ages

  • national (interim) life tables have been produced annually for the UK and its constituent countries since 1980 to 1982

  • responsibility for the production of National Life Tables was transferred to us in 2006 from the Government Actuary’s Department (GAD)

  • there has been no change in methods or classifications within the last 10 years, and there are unlikely to be any changes in the near future

National Life Tables are a convenient way of analysing age-specific death rates and a standard demographic tool used to portray expectation of life at various ages. Life tables are usually constructed separately for men and for women because of their different mortality patterns. We routinely publish 2 types of national life expectancy, the national (interim) life table and the period and cohort life expectancy tables.

Life expectancy is the average number of years a person is expected to live before death. This is usually calculated from the time of birth, but can also be calculated from any specified age. This estimates the remaining further number of years a person, on average, can expect to live given their age.

National (interim) life tables are based on population estimates and births and deaths for a period of 3 consecutive years. The 3-year rolling averages are used to smooth fluctuations due to exceptional events, for example, a flu epidemic.

Period and cohort life expectancy tables are produced biennially based on the assumptions for future mortality from the national population projections (NPP). These tables give historic and projected life expectancies by single year of age and sex, from 1981 to the NPP base year and then 50 years into the future.

Life expectancy figures provide users with an indicator of the health of the nation, which can be used to inform policy, planning and research in both public and private sectors in areas such as health, population, pensions and insurance. Internally, we use the national (interim) life tables to calculate disability free life expectancy, healthy life expectancy and duration of working life.

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