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Average life expectancy UK guide 2024

Life expectancy in the UK has improved dramatically within the last 50 years. Advances in medication, living conditions and more mean that on average we are living longer than ever before.

Here, we are aiming to answer every possible question relating to life expectancy in the UK. This includes differences depending on gender, postcode, and other risk factors. We also discuss the best possible ways to increase your lifespan, to help give you more time with your loved ones.

A picture of a stopwatch

60-Second Summary – Average Life Expectancy UK

Over the last 50 – 60 years, the average life span in the UK has increased by around 10 years due to advancements in medication, health and lifestyle factors. Life expectancy can be affected by various factors such as gender, where in the UK you live (postcode) and any medical conditions you may have.

  • According to the Office for National Statistics, the average life expectancy for men in the UK is 79.0 years (as of the most recent figures published in 2020).
  • According to the Office for National Statistics, the average life expectancy for women in the UK is 82.9 years (as of the most recent figures published in 2020).
  • There are simple ways that you could potentially improve your life expectancy, though none of them are guaranteed. This includes things such as quitting smoking, exercising more, cutting out alcohol or drugs and improving your diet.

As many people are now living much longer, it is believed the UK will have an older population within the next 50 years. It is expected that by the year 2070 there will be an additional 8.6million over 65s living in the UK.

There is generally a life expectancy gap between men and women. Women overally tend to live longer than men on average.

The Office for National Statistics states that the average life expectancy in the UK currently is:

Average male life expectancy UK – 79.0 years (life expectancy at birth)

Average female life expectancy UK – 82.9 years (life expectancy at birth)

Average (most common) age at death – 86.7 years (male), 89.3 years (female)

Why are we living longer now on average?

YearLife expectancy
196070.61 years
196571.04 years
197071.71 years
197572.21 years
198073.01 years
198574.19 years
199075.14 years
199576.24 years
200077.17 years
200578.41 years
201079.69 years
201580.87 years
202081.85 years

*according to figures from Statista

Lifespans in the UK have grown longer as the years have passed.

Back in 1765, it was uncommon to live past the age of 39. Luckily for us all, this figure has nearly doubled within the last 200 years.

This table highlights how lifespans are still getting longer, with notable changes over the last 50 years.

There have been many improvements to the quality of life in the UK, which has resulted in longer lifespans. Factors that have helped include:

  • Advancements in medicine such as new vaccinations, better treatment for medical conditions, preventative medicine and more
  • Healthier lifestyle choices and better availability of varied food for a balanced diet
  • Government investment in healthcare services and education about healthy living
  • Generally better living and working conditions across the country

As you can see in the table, a UK resident will now live for around 10-11 years longer on average compared to the average lifespan back in the 1960s.

While we could now expect to live to around 81.85 years (as of 2020 estimates), the figure was around 70.61 years only 60 years ago.

With this in mind, UK life spans could be as high as 90 years old on average by the time it is the year 2080.

Overall, people in the UK are living longer than they were 40-50 years ago. This rate has increased over time and continues to do so. It has increased at a slower rate within the last decade though.

Improved figures can be put down to advances in medical treatments and healthcare, plus improvements in living and working conditions.

2000 – 2010 – males lived for 42-53 weeks longer than previously predicted, females lived 29-42 weeks longer than previously predicted

2010 – 2019– slower improvements, only years where increases were reported were 2017-2019

2019 – 2020 – life expectancy dropped by 7 weeks for males (impact of the coronavirus pandemic)

Over the last few years, there have been minor changes to how long UK residents are expected to live. The most notable changes are:

  • Men are living on average 7 weeks less compared to previous figures
  • Women are living on average around half a week longer compared to previous figures
  • Life expectancy past age 65 has declined slightly – 18.5 years for males (1 week less), 21.0 years for females (3.1 weeks less)

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Estimated healthy life expectancy rates in the UK can vary depending on where you live. Here, we have all the latest figures for life expectancy by location (based on figures from 2018-2020).

LocationLife expectancy (male)Life expectancy (female)
England79.3 years83.1 years
Wales78.3 years82.1 years
Scotland76.8 years81.0 years
Northern Ireland78.7 years82.4 years

There are even more detailed estimations of life expectancy based on your postcode. The ONS have posted figures for specific areas in England.

LocationLife expectancy (male)Life expectancy (female)
North East England77.6 years81.5 years
North West England77.9 years81.7 years
Yorkshire and the Humber78.7 years82.2 years
East Midlands79.2 years82.7 years
West Midlands78.5 years82.5 years
East of England80.2 years83.8 years
London80.3 years84.3 years
South East England80.6 years84.1 years
South West England80.3 years84.1 years

Life expectancy and medical conditions

Certain medical conditions can dramatically affect your life expectancy. Below we have some facts about various medical conditions in the UK and their impact on lifespan.

Smoker’s life expectancy UKAround 10 years lower than non smokers.  

Increased risk of developing other medical conditions that could limit your life.  

More information – NHS – Why it is always the right time to quit
Cancer life expectancy50% of cancer patients will survive cancer for 10 or more years from diagnosis (double the rate of 24% from 40 years ago).  

Survival rates can also vary depending on the type, stage, and grade of your cancer.  

More information – Cancer Research UK – Cancer survival statistics
Diabetes life expectancyMen can expect to live for 77 years and women 81 years on average.  

Type 1 diabetes life expectancy – previously around 20 years less on average. This figure is now hugely reduced due to improvements in medical care.  

Type 2 diabetes life expectancy – reduced by up to 10 years.  

Diabetes can reduce life expectancy due to an increased risk of kidney disease, cardiovascular disease and high blood pressure/cholesterol.  

More information – Diabetes.co.uk – Diabetes life expectancy
Life expectancy after strokeDepending on the severity of stroke, you could expect to live for up to 9 and a half years less.  

Many people do recover well from stroke, with minimal or no effect on life expectancy.  

Strokes are responsible for around 35,000 deaths in the UK every year. This number has reduced due to better awareness of symptoms, meaning treatment is received sooner.  

More information – Brain Research UK – Stroke
Life expectancy after heart attackMany people can recover fully from a heart attack with minor impact on their overall lifespan. This is helped with regular exercise and a balanced diet.  

If your heart attack is linked to other conditions e.g. heart disease or heart failure, this can shorten your life.  

Heart failure life expectancy – around 5 years from diagnosis
HIV life expectancy UKWith the right treatment, people with HIV can now expect to live a normal lifespan.  

The sooner HIV is diagnosed and treatment starts the better the life expectancy will be.  

More information – AIDSmap – Life expectancy for people living with HIV
Obesity life expectancyObesity can reduce an average lifespan by between 3 to 10 years.  

Having a high BMI can also increase the risk of developing other medical conditions.  

This includes conditions such as heart disease or stroke which can also limit your life expectancy.  

More information – NHS – Obesity: Overview
Crohn’s disease life expectancy UKIf you have Crohn’s disease, your lifespan may be up to 5-6 years shorter (men) or 6-8 years shorter (women).  

This is the same for other inflammatory bowel diseases such as ulcerative colitis.  

Crohn’s disease medication can also affect your lifespan. Immunosuppressant drugs can increase your risk of illness or infection.  

More information – Healthline – Can Crohn’s disease be fatal?
MS life expectancy UKOn average, people with MS can expect to live on 5 to 10 years less than average.  

This gap has reduced over time and appears to be continuing to decrease, according to the NHS.  

More information – NHS – Multiple Sclerosis: Overview
Mental health life expectancyPeople with serious mental health issues can live on average 15 to 20 years less (as of 2019).  

This will not be the case for all people and all mental health conditions. Mental health disorders can increase the risk of developing physical health problems as well.  

The NHS are working to address this, to improve care for patients with mental health conditions.  

More information – NHS – Achieving more for people with severe mental illness  
Epilepsy life expectancyEpilepsy related deaths increased 70% between 2001-2014. On average, someone with epilepsy with live for 8 years less than someone without epilepsy.  

You are 3 times more likely to die due to epilepsy if you are from a deprived area.  

More information – Epilepsy Action – Epilepsy facts and terminology

What are the leading causes of death in the UK?

As of April 2023, these were the most common causes of death in England.

Dementia and Alzheimer’s disease – 97.6 deaths

Heart disease – 84.1 deaths

Chronic respiratory diseases – 46.6 deaths

Cerebrovascular diseases (e.g. stroke) – 43.4 deaths

Cancerous tumour of the trachea or lung – 39.5 deaths

Pneumonia or flu – 34.6 deaths

Other (undefined conditions) – 30.5 deaths

Coronavirus (Covid-19) – 26.3 deaths

Cancerous tumour of the colon or anus – 22.7 deaths

Lymphoma (cancerous) – 17.8 deaths

Improving life expectancy

We can all make changes to our health and lifestyle that could boost our chances of living longer. Various lifestyle choices can increase the risk for developing conditions that could shorten our lives significantly.

Removing or reducing these factors could massively improve life expectancy, though of course some conditions are still likely to be developed due to genetics.

These are some of the main lifestyle related risk factors, and the conditions that can be caused by or linked to them.

Lifestyle risk factorKnown linked medical conditions
SmokingCancer (7 in 10 lung cancer cases), heart disease, stroke, respiratory conditions, diabetes, COPD, asthma, circulatory disease, heart attack, heart disease, pneumonia, lower immune system
Obesity (overweight)Type 2 diabetes, coronary heart disease, cancer, stroke, depression, heart disease, fatty liver disease, high blood pressure
High alcohol consumptionCancer, liver disease, heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, pancreatitis, depression, dementia, kidney disease, lower immune system
Drug useCancer, lung disease, heart disease, HIV, liver disease, kidney disease, neurological conditions, cardiovascular conditions, lower immune system
Poor dietCancer, obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular conditions, high blood pressure, dementia, coronary heart disease, high cholesterol, stroke

Here are some of the main ways to add some extra years onto your lifespan:

  • Exercise daily (if possible): Even a short walk can help get your blood flowing and improve your health
  • Eat well: Try to eat a balanced diet including fruits, vegetables, protein, dairy products (or alternatives), grains, carbohydrates etc
  • Cut down on smoking/drinking alcohol: Smoking and alcohol can have a negative impact on your health and can lead to life limited conditions like heart disease and cancer.
  • Reduce stress where you can:  Stress can be linked to a number of conditions such as high blood pressure which can put a strain on your health
  • Reduce salt intake: Having too much salt in your diet can increase your cholesterol
  • Take care of your mental health: Mental wellbeing is just as important as physical wellbeing, and should also be prioritised
  • Get enough rest: it is believed getting less than 5 hours of sleep per night can take years off your life – so make sure you’re getting your full 8 hours where you can!

If you want to work out your life expectancy, the Office for National Statistics has an online calculator you can use.

This shows you how long you are likely to live based on your age and gender. They also share the likelihood of living longer than this e.g. 1 in 4 chance of living to 99 years old.

Protecting your life

Death can be an uncomfortable topic for many, but one worth talking about. It is best to have some form of safety net in place in the event of your death, to prevent your family struggling financially in the future.

Life insurance is the #1 way to provide your loved ones with peace of mind and financial security. For FREE life insurance advice and support, you can talk to one of our award-winning experts.

Call 0800 009 6559 or complete our quick online form to find out how you can protect your home and family from as little as £5 per month.

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Is it worth paying for life insurance?

Yes, if you’ve got children or financial dependents then you should have life insurance to protect them if you die. Martin Lewis and the Financial Conduct Authority recommend that you take out life insurance to protect your family and your home. Generally, life insurance premiums start from as little as £5 per month and will be cheaper for younger adults.

Common myths about life insurance:

  • Life insurance won’t pay out (pays out 98% of claims)
  • People with medical conditions can’t have life insurance
  • Life insurance is expensive
  • Savings can be just as effective as life insurance
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What is the average cost of life insurance per month?

Based on recent research carried out, the average cost of life insurance is approximately £38 per month and the average level of cover is £152,000. Life insurance premiums also vary dramatically from one insurance provider to another and you can reduce your monthly premiums by shopping around.

Fundamentally, life insurance premiums vary depending on your age, health and the amount of cover that you need, starting from as little as £5 per month. You can also get life insurance to protect your family and your home against financial loss if you die.

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Average cost of life insurance - iam|INSURED

What does life insurance cover you for?

Life insurance is a monthly renewable ‘term insurance’ contract that pays out a cash lump sum or regular payments on death to your family or beneficiaries. Policies are most commonly used for family protection or mortgage protection for your loved ones if you die and your household income reduces, plus the additional issues of losing a parent or carer.

Traditional life insurance will not exclude any pre-existing medical conditions and will cover suicide after 12 or 24 months. You can also use life insurance for business protection purposes as well as tax-efficient business life insurance for directors or key people.

What are the disadvantages of life insurance?

The biggest and most common problem that consumers have with life insurance is the cost and the monthly premiums. This is the top reason for policy cancellations and why more people don’t take out life insurance to protect their family.

Another key disadvantage with life insurance is that it holds no investment value, nor can you cash it in. Life insurance works like any other traditional general insurance policy (e.g. car insurance, house insurance, pet insurance etc.), you pay a monthly premium and it will pay out in the event of a claim. Some people decide to use savings instead of taking out life insurance but you need to make sure that you have sufficient savings to cover the costs of death for your family.

Why do I need life insurance?

The fact is that nobody actually ‘needs’ life insurance, but it is strongly recommended that families and couples have cover to protect their loved ones in the event of death. Martin Lewis recommends life insurance and says “this is something that every parent, partner, or person with any other type of dependent needs to consider”.

Life insurance financially protects your loved ones if you die and pays out a cash lump sum to repay your mortgage, pay for school fees, replace lost income, and pay for regular outgoings. Mortgage life insurance is not linked to your mortgage debt so you can use it to pay off some or all of your mortgage.

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