Life Expectancy in Wales

Data on life expectancy has been taken from Stats Wales. Life expectancies were “constructed from the estimated population and total deaths by single year / quinary age each year, based on a three year average. The expected years of life is the lifetime of a newborn person if they were subject throughout their lives to the average recorded death rate of the three year period. Such a calculation excludes future improvements to mortality rates“. The three years used for the data presented here were 2010-2012.

Over the whole of Wales the life expectancies of men and women were found to be 78.2 years and 82.2 years respectively, a gender gap in expected longevity of 4.0 years.

Life expectancies were also given for the 22 unitary authorities. These revealed the following,

Figure 1: Plots the gender gap in life expectancy versus male life expectancy. The gender gap is significantly (anti)correlated with men’s life expectancy (correlation coefficient -0.45).

Figure 2: Plots the gender gap in life expectancy versus female life expectancy. The gender gap is not correlated with women’s life expectancy.

In plain words, where the gender gap in life expectancy is larger it is due to men’s poorer life expectancy rather than women’s better life expectancy.

Figure 1

Life expectancy differential in Wales v men

Figure 2

Life expectancy differential in Wales v women

What the gender gap in overall life expectancy does not reveal, however, is the huge difference in numbers of deaths of males and females at all ages from new born babies to about 80 years old. Figure 3 illustrates this using data for England & Wales, taken from Deaths Registered in England & Wales, 2014. (Data for Wales only has not been found but is certain to look qualitatively similar – see below). Figure 3 plots the number of male deaths minus the number of female deaths as a percentage of the number of female deaths (in ranges typically about 5 years wide).

In every age range below 80 years, male deaths exceed female deaths by several tens of percent – and over 100% in some cases

This rather amazing fact goes unnoticed. Far more males than females die prematurely.

Figure 3

Excess male deaths v age

Only for the over-80s are there more women dying than men (because most men are then already dead). Overall more women die – inevitably because there are more women in the population and everyone dies eventually. But it is premature death which is of interest, i.e., deaths before the mean longevity.

In 2014, in England, there were 197,656 deaths of males under 85 and 155,662 deaths of females under 85, an excess of 41,994 male ‘premature’ deaths – despite there being roughly a million more females in the English population. Based on deaths before age 75 (‘even more premature’ deaths) there were 89,335 deaths of men and 61,155 deaths of women in England, an excess of 28,180 male deaths before 75 years of age. Thus, for the under 75s, the excess of male deaths as a percentage of female deaths in England was 46%.

For Wales alone, in 2014, there were 6,100 deaths of males under 75 and 4,204 deaths of females under 75, an excess of 1,896 male deaths before age 75. Thus, for the under 75s, the excess of male deaths as a percentage of female deaths in Wales was 45%, similar to that in England. This suggests that Figure 3, based on data for England and Wales, is likely to be indicative for Wales alone. [These data were taken from the British Heart Foundation report “cardiovascular disease statistics 2015”, Table 1.2].

The gender premature death gap is ~45%

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