Life expectancy has taken a slump in the UK, here’s why

Life expectancy has fallen to the lowest age in a decade.

Life expectancy decrease UK
© Jonathan Borba / UNSPLASH
Life expectancy decrease UK

Our whole lives are, funnily enough, framed by the opposites of life and death. We are obsessed with the idea of what happens after death, and love to hear stories of people coming back to life after experiencing the afterlife. Well, new figures show that for some of us, our life expectancy has taken a dip.

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Don’t worry, if you’re reading this then you are not impacted. This new life expectancy is for people who are too young to be reading - specifically, those born between 2020 and 2022. However, it turns out that these figures don’t mean these kids will live for a shorter time. Here's an explanation of what caused this decrease and what these statistics really mean.

Coronavirus’ impact on life expectancy

You’ve probably guessed it: this dip in life expectancy is due to the impact of the pandemic. Pamela Cobb, of the the Office for National Statistics, said:

After a decade of slowing life expectancy improvements, we’ve now seen life expectancy fall for both men and women. This decrease has been mainly driven by the coronavirus pandemic, which led to increased mortality in 2020 and 2021.

However, she added that is does not mean these children will live a shorter life because of mortality rates changing. Veena Raleigh, senior fellow at The King’s Fund, explained:

Although life expectancy has recovered somewhat since the sharp fall in 2020 when the pandemic struck, it’s not had the bounce-back that might have been expected once the worst of the pandemic was over, pointing to deeper problems with the health of the nation and the resilience of the health care system.

What does this data really mean?

The Guardian summarised the findings of the new data, which details the difference between girls and boys. Boys born between 2020 and 2022 can expect to live to 78.6 years old. This means there's been a decrease of 38 weeks when compared with the same measure between 2017 and 2019. For girls, the expectancy for the same period is 82.6 years, with a decrease of 23 weeks.

This is based on projections from their birth year, so the situation will of course change over the course of their lives. Fingers crossed there won’t be another global pandemic for them to manage…

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Sources used:

The Guardian: UK life expectancy falls to lowest level in a decade

Office for National Statistics: Life expectancies

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