In early December the Office for National Statistics (ONS) released updated life expectancy projections based on the assumptions for future mortality from the 2018-based national population projections (NPP), which were published on 21 October 2019. The ONS has also updated its life expectancy calculator.
While life expectancy is still expected to rise in the future, the absolute numbers are now smaller. The ONS says that “The lower projections of life expectancy over time reflect the higher mortality rates observed in recent years than were previously projected and the projected lower rates of mortality improvement at older ages”. That explains why, for example, the 2014 projection said that a male reaching 65 in 2018 would have a life expectancy of 21.8 years, while the 2018 projection is 19.9 years. The drop for women is the same – from 23.9 years to 22.0 years.
Falls in projected life expectancy have been commonplace in the UK over recent years. This latest set of data calls into question whether the planned increase in State Pension Age (SPA) from 67 to 68 between 2037 and 2039 will survive the next SPA review. The timing for the move to 68 was originally proposed in the Cridland Report, which was based on 2012 and 2014 ONS data.