Club Vita's Top Charts Issue 8: Life Expectancy Trends Around the World

In this regular column, Club Vita's longevity experts will help you visualise the often abstract world of longevity risk by introducing their own personal favourite charts.

In this edition, Club Vita’s Longevity Consultant, Nick Chadwick takes a closer look at recent changes in life expectancy in different countries around the globe.


The slowdown in longevity improvements has hit the headlines in the UK, but how does our experience stack up against comparator countries around the globe? And how does life expectancy from age 65 compare?


Whilst the headlines have been very negative, I think there is some room for optimism in the UK. We’ve looked at seven comparator countries: Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Japan the Netherlands and the USA.

1. Current life expectancy: Life expectancy for UK males lies in 5th place, ahead of the USA, Germany and the Netherlands. However we still have a lot of work to do to catch up with the leading pack.
2. Recent trends: The UK has seen lower improvements than many countries since 2010 (lying in joint 5th with Canada), but not the lowest; again, bad news for the USA and Germany who have seen the joint lowest improvements over this period.
3. How the trend has changed over time: The UK has seen the biggest slowdown in improvements since 2010. However this needs to be considered in the context of the very high levels of improvements seen in the UK between 2000 and 2010, which were the highest of all the nations considered.

The chart below shows how male period life expectancy at age 65 has changed in the different countries in our sample for the periods 2000-2010 and post-2010.

Key takeaways

  • All eight countries have seen substantial increases in life expectancy since 2000, and life expectancy continues to grow.
  • However the current rate of improvement is depressed in a number of countries, not just the UK, but Germany, the USA and Canada.
  • Despite great progress during the 2000s, the UK is well behind the leading nations. This gives us hope that there is plenty of room for improvement in the coming decades if we can learn lessons from those countries (although there is little evidence this has happened in 2017/18).

Source: Human Mortality Database. University of California, Berkeley (USA) and Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research (Germany). Available at or (data downloaded on
28 September 2018). With the exception of data for Canada life expectancy in 2015 which is the three year average from 2014-2016 from Statistics Canada’s life tables:

The key questions for pension schemes and insurers are:

  • Will these levels of improvements continue or revert back to the good old 2000s?
  • Wherever you are around the globe, are national trends relevant to your particular mix of individuals?

What do you think?
Please post your questions in our Friends of Club Vita discussion group on LinkedIn.

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Top Charts Issue 8: Life Expectancy Trends Around the World

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