DefinitionLife expectancy is an estimate of the expected average number of years of life (or a person's age at death) for individuals who were born into a particular population. The method developed by C.L. Chiang was used to compute life expectancy.
Data Interpretation IssuesLife expectancy at birth is strongly influenced by infant and child mortality; life expectancy later in life reflects death rates at or above a given age and is independent of mortality at younger ages.
Why Is This Important?Life expectancy is a measure that is often used to gauge the overall health of a community. Life expectancy at birth measures health status across all age groups.
Shifts in life expectancy are often used to describe trends in mortality. Being able to predict how populations will age has enormous implications for the planning and provision of services and support. Small increases in life expectancy translate into large increases in the population.
As the life expectancy of a population lengthens, the number of people living with chronic illnesses tends to increase because chronic illnesses are more common among older persons.
Other ObjectivesOne of Utah's 42 Community Health Status Indicators
One of the Council of State and Territorial Epidemiolgists (CSTE) Chronic Disease Indicators: "Life Expectancy at Birth"
How Are We Doing?Prevention and control of infectious diseases has had a profound impact on life expectancy during the 20th century. In the United States life expectancy at birth from 1900 to 2016 increased from 46.3 to 76.1 years for men, and from 48.3 to 81.1 years for women. In contrast to life expectancy at birth which increased sharply early in the century, life expectancy at age 65 improved primarily after 1950. Among men, life expectancy at age 65 rose from 12.0 to 18.0 years and among women from 15.0 to 20.6 years between 1950 and 2016. Improvements in nutrition, hygiene, and medical care contributed to decreases in death rates throughout the lifespan.
How Do We Compare With the U.S.?Women typically outlive men. Females born in Utah today can expect to live 81.8 years, and males born in Utah can expect to live 78 years. This becomes evident in later years as individuals survive from their early sixties into their eighties and older. The population of Utahns aged 65+ was 54% female and 46% male according to the 2017 population estimate IBIS version 2017. Utah has a young population and ranks last in the percentage of the population aged 65 and over based on 2017 American Community Survey 1-Year Estimates Table GCT0103.
What Is Being Done?Now that people are living longer, it is important to look at ways that those added years can be lived in good health. Exercise, healthy diet and weight, not smoking, moderate use of alcohol, and injury prevention habits such as wearing seat belts all contribute to a healthy life span.
Improvements in life expectancy increase the proportion of older individuals living in society. Policy-makers must be aware of this trend in order to provide viable and attractive options for elderly persons who require assistance with activities of daily living.