Slow down in life expectancy

Submitted by Matthew on 26 July, 2017 - 7:19 Author: Charlotte Zalens

Life expectancy in England, which has been steadily rising for more than 100 years, has stalled.

Government and World Health Organisation advisor Sir Michael Marmot looked at Office for National Statistics data showing that the rate of increase in life expectancy had nearly halved since 2010.

Before 2010 life expectancy at birth had been increasing by one year every five years for women and by one year every 3.5 years for men. After 2010 that rate fell to an increase of one year for every 10 years for women and one year for every six years for men. Marmot described this slow in growth as ″pretty close to having ground to a halt″ and as ″historically highly unusual″. The stall cannot be explained by human beings having reached an upper-age limit in life expectancy.

Maximum human life span is currently estimated to be between 115 and 125 years, and as not many people actually reach this age, there is still room for life expectancy to increase. Hong Kong has a longer life expectancy and continues to see rises. Most of the growth in life expectancy in the 20th century has been the result of decreases in childhood mortality. Austerity has been cited as a reason for the trend and Marmot says that is ″entirely possible″. However it is hard to draw firm conclusions about the cause.

There has also been an increase in mortality rates. This increase is largely due to an aging population, from 2008-2015 the number of people aged over 90 increased from 657 to 854 per 100,000 people, and the total number of centenarians has increased from 10,400 to 14,570. In 2015 there was a 5.6% increase in deaths. Austerity has hit social care harder than anywhere else. Could we be seeing the consequences of a political choice not to care for the elderly being reflected in stalled life expectancy?