Latest ONS life expectancy analysis is ‘glance in the rear-view’ mirror as trustees and sponsors need to have eye on future trends – LCP

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Today, the ONS published an updated analysis showing shorter life expectancies for the UK and its constituent countries, but there are no surprises in the update. 

ONS shows that life expectancy at birth in the UK was 78.6 years for males and 82.6 years for females, which is a fall of 38 weeks for males and 23 weeks for females. Life expectancy improvements have been slow for the last decade, and the latest estimates of life expectancy at birth are back to the same level as 2010 to 2012. 

These statistics are based on average mortality rates observed over a recent three-year period. Today’s release updates that period to 2020-2022. 

It is therefore not surprising that the data shows falling life expectancies, as the last pre-pandemic year, 2019, has dropped out of the data period, and the calculation is based entirely on the high mortality rates seen since the onset of the pandemic.  

Stuart McDonald, Head of Longevity and Demographic Insights at LCP, commented: “These statistics are based on average UK mortality rates observed over 2020 to 2022. Life expectancy had been improving for 200 years, so any fall is concerning, but there is no surprise here in light of the pandemic, and today’s data tells us little about the life expectancy of people alive today. What is more important is how death rates will change in the future, especially given the ramifications of the Covid-19 pandemic and ongoing pressures on the NHS. Trustees and sponsors of pension schemes need to think carefully about how these trends will affect their members in the future, whereas today’s update is a glance in the rear-view mirror.”

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