• In 2000, the UK ranked 21st out of 38 countries for female life expectancy at birth. By 2019 it had fallen to 26th place, with five countries (Ireland, Denmark, Republic of Korea, Slovenia and Chile) overtaking the UK in female life expectancy estimates during that period.

  • While the UK ranks better for male life expectancy at birth, improvements between 2011 and 2019 were also smaller than seen in other OECD countries. When ranked by male life expectancy against 38 OECD countries, the UK fell from 13th place in 2011 to 19th place in 2019.

This chart shows period life expectancy at birth (in years) in countries within the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). Period life expectancy at birth is defined as the number of years that someone could be expected to live after they are born, if current age-specific mortality rates did not change for the rest of their life.

  • Between 2000 and 2011, period life expectancy at birth for women living in the UK increased by 2.7 years to 83 years. In contrast, between 2011 and 2019 it increased by only 0.3 years, to 83.3 years.  
  • In 2000, the UK ranked 21st out of 38 countries for female life expectancy at birth. By 2019 it had fallen to 26th place, with five countries (Ireland, Denmark, Republic of Korea, Slovenia and Chile) overtaking the UK in female life expectancy estimates during that period.  
  • While improvements in male life expectancy at birth in the UK have been greater than for females, they too have started to stall. Between 2000 and 2011 male period life expectancy increased by 3.5 years to 79 years. In contrast, between 2011 and 2019 it increased by only 0.6 years to 79.6 years.  
  • The slowdown in life expectancy improvements has meant UK male life expectancy at birth fell behind other countries, from 13th out of 38 countries in 2011, to 19th out of 38 by 2019.

Many countries experienced a slowdown in mortality improvements in the decade before the pandemic. However, the UK's slowdown was greater than that of many other countries. This partly reflects a lack of improvement in the broader conditions, beyond health and social care, that influence our health. With life expectancy behind that of many other OECD countries, there is room for improvement in the UK. 

  • This analysis uses period life expectancy: the average number of additional years a person would live if they experienced the age-specific mortality rates of the given area and time period for the rest of their life. 
  • Life expectancy estimates for Latvia start in 2002, due to data availability.

Source: Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Stat, Life expectancy, 2019

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