Government official stats & projections re current & future UK lifespans

P. Smith made this Freedom of Information request to Office for National Statistics

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Dear Office for National Statistics,

The current coalition govenment is justifying the raising of the pension age on the basis that we are all living longer now.

Is this true? How is this statement arrived at? What factors and figs are taken into consideration re the calculation?

However, even if this is true, (bearing in mind modern lifestyle and diets, and the eroding by government of living standards for many), will this be true for the generations that measures to raise the pension age will affect? What are the future projections for lifespans?

What factors and figs are taken into this projection calculation?

Thank you,

Yours faithfully,

[P. Smith]

Paul Wearn, Office for National Statistics

1 Attachment

Our Reference: FOI01226/Smith/QE1

Thank you for your email. I am writing to confirm that the Office for
National Statistics has now completed its search for the information which
you requested and a copy is enclosed.

ONS have prepared a factually based response to the life expectancy
questions. ONS are not able to answer the questions regarding pension age,
this would be for DWP to respond to.
The Office for National Statistics calculates and publishes estimates of
life expectancy for the UK and its constituent countries:

National interim life tables        
Sub-national interim life tables

The life expectancy figures in the interim life tables are period life
expectancies, this is the average number of additional years a person
would live if he or she experienced the age-specific mortality rates of
the given area and time period for the rest of their life.

Life expectancy is rising for both males and females. Throughout the 20th
century there was a fairly steady increase and this has continued into the
21st century.  Much of the increase in the period expectation of life at
birth in the first half of the 20th century can be attributed to the
reduction of infant and child mortality to very low levels by about 1950.
Infant and child mortality have now fallen to such low levels that further
reductions can have little effect on the expectation of life at birth.
Since about 1940, the increasing control of infectious diseases has
considerably reduced the number of early adult deaths and there has in
more recent years been a reduction in the number of those dying early from
circulatory diseases such as heart disease and stroke. Since the 1970s the
greatest declines in mortality rates have been at older ages (65 and
over), particularly for males for whom mortality is currently improving
more rapidly than female mortality. Since the 1980s the period expectation
of life at birth in the UK for females has increased by about 1.8 years
per decade, while male life expectancy has increased by around 2.5 years
per decade.  A brief description of recent trends in period life
expectancy is available from the following web address.
The methodology for calculating the national interim life tables can be
found in the attached pdf document:
The methodology for calculating the sub-national interim life tables can
be found from the following web address

The ONS also produces future life expectancy figures by using population
and deaths data from the national population projections. These
projections are calculated from assumptions made about future mortality,
fertility and migration. These assumptions are based on analyses of
historic trends and expert advice. The resulting projected population and
deaths figures are then used to calculate future life expectancy.
Projected life expectancy figures are given on both a period basis (using
mortality rates for a given time period) and a cohort basis. Cohort life
expectancies are calculated using age-specific mortality rates which allow
for known or projected changes in mortality in later years and are
therefore regarded as a more appropriate measure of how long a person of a
given age would be expected to live, on average, than period life
expectancy. For example, the projected cohort life expectancy of a male
born in the UK in 2009 was 88.7 years, and for a female born in 2009 was
92.3 years; the projected period life expectancies for males and females
born in 2009 were 78.1 years and 82.1 years respectively. Period and
cohort life expectancy projections are available from the following web

Further information on how the latest (2008-based) assumptions for future
mortality were derived can be found in chapter 7 of the reference volume
PP2 no. 27

You have the right to have this response to your freedom of information
request reviewed internally by an internal review process and, if you
remain unhappy with the decision, by the Information Commissioner. If you
would like to have the decision reviewed please write to Frank Nolan,
Office for National Statistics, Room 1127, Government Buildings, Cardiff
Road, Newport, Gwent, NP10 8XG.

If you have any queries about this email, please contact me. Please
remember to quote the reference number above in any future communications.

Kind regards,

Paul Wearn LLB (Hons)
Legal Services
Office for National Statistics

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