Children born today will die five years earlier than predicted a decade ago as life expectancy falls

Coronavirus pandemic cited as factor for decline

Wednesday 12 January 2022 17:57
<p>Girls born in 2020 are expected to live for 90.2 years, and boys for 87.3 years</p>

Girls born in 2020 are expected to live for 90.2 years, and boys for 87.3 years

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A baby born in the UK in the 2020s will die nearly five years earlier than previously predicted almost 10 years ago, new data shows.

Girls born last year are expected to live for 90.2 years, and boys for 87.3 years, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

Girls born in 2020 are expected to live 4.8 fewer years than predicted in 2012, and boys 4.5 fewer years.

This is despite the historical trend showing that life expectancy generally increases as standards of living improve over the years.

The coronavirus pandemic has been cited as one factor for the decline in expected life expectancy.

David Finch, assistant director of healthy lives at the Health Foundation, said that “there will be a lasting impact from the decade of stalling life expectancy prior to the pandemic”.

He said: “The government faces a massive challenge in delivering its promise to improve life expectancy for people in the UK.

“A ’whole government approach’ is required if we are to see significant progress, including in areas that contribute to health, such as having more secure employment, good quality homes and adequate welfare support for those who are struggling.

“Improving health needs to be a key consideration in all government policy and investment decisions, the vast majority of which have the potential to help or hinder efforts.

“The pandemic has laid bare the extent of underlying poor health in the UK, with tragic consequences.

“Good health is vital to the country’s prosperity and government cannot delay any further in investing in our future.”

The ONS figures also reflect how the structure of the UK’s population continues to change and tilt more towards older age groups.

The elderly population could nearly double in size over the next 25 years, to 3.1 million, the projections suggest.

Over-85s would account for 4.3 per cent of the population by 2045, or around one in 23 people – representing an increase of 2.5 per cent since 2020.

The ONS said: “There are projected to be many more people at older ages by 2045, in part because of the baby boomers from the 1960s now being aged around 80 years, as well as general increases in life expectancy.”

Over the next 25 years, the proportion of the population aged 0-14 is projected to fall from 17.9 per cent to 14.8 per cent – a decrease of 3.1 per cent.

Fewer young children are likely to be in the UK by 2045, with the fertility rate in the 2020s and 2030s is projected to be below that seen in 2001, when fertility was already at a record low.

James Robards, from ONS Population and Household Projections, said: “The UK population is projected to grow by 2.1 million over the 10 years to mid-2030, with England’s population expected to increase more quickly than the other UK nations.

“These projections suggest slower growth than we’ve previously said. This is because of lower assumptions both about future levels of fertility and mortality improvements.

“Given a higher number of deaths and fewer births are projected, net international migration is expected to play an increasing role in population growth.”

The increase of 2.1m between 2020 and 2030 is based on projections that 6.6m people will be born, 6.7m people will die, 5.6m people will immigrate to the UK and 3.4m people will emigrate.

Across 2020 to 2045, the ONS projects there will be 1.4m more deaths than births, but the population will grow by 3.9m, again driven by projected net migration of 5.3m.

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