UK plummets to bottom of life expectancy league

UK plummets to bottom of life expectancy league

There has been a major fall in UK life expectancies when compared with every other country, apart from the US for males, longevity figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) have revealed.

Between 2011 and 2016, the UK experienced a dramatic slowdown in improvements in life expectancy at birth and at age 65 for both men and women.

By comparison, countries including the Czech Republic, Italy, Norway and Japan have seen life expectancies increase in recent years.

The latest ONS statistics chime with other recent ONS findings that show the number of weekly deaths in England and Wales over eight consecutive weeks exceeded the average for the last five years.

Steve Webb, director of policy at Royal London, said: “There is a real human cost behind these statistics and we urgently need to understand more about why this is happening. The current extreme summer weather is clearly taking its toll in the short-term, but there are also big, longer term factors at work.

“The government needs to conduct urgent research into these worrying trends.   If other countries can ride out economic storms and continue to drive up life expectancy, there is no reason why the UK should not be able to do so.”

Helen Morrissey, pensions specialist at Royal London, also believes there are serious implications for the pensions sector.

She said: “Planned increases in the state pension age will need to be reviewed to take account of the latest data, and company pension schemes may find their liabilities are lower than expected.

“Much more work is needed to understand the reasons for this data so that pension funds and pension providers understand whether this is a temporary slowdown or part of a much longer-term trend.”

Tom Selby, senior pensions adviser at AJ Bell, added: “If this dip in life expectancies proves to be the beginning of a long-term trend then it will have ramifications for the pensions and retirement sector, as well as for society as a whole, impacting social care and the general health of the nation.

“The financial industry will need to consider how to respond, which could mean changes to annuity rates and defined contribution scheme rates.”