Life expectancy still increasing
Published on 18 December 2012 12:01 AM
A new report claims that the number of people living to beyond 100 is increasing, as the average lifespan for males and females gets higher.
According to a new Office for National Statistics (ONS) report, a baby boy born in 2010 is now expected to live until the age of 79, while a girl should live to be 83. However, in analysing the age at which death is most common, the figures show that for men it is age 85 and women age 89.
The figures also illustrate a five-fold increase in the number of centenarians in England and Wales over the last 30 years - around 2,280 people reached three figures in 1980, while 11,610 did so in 2010. The general figure in 1980 also reflected this shift, with just over 1% of the population aged 85 or over at the beginning of the 1980s, but by 2010 this figure had reached more than 2%.
Previous studies have suggested that lifespans would not increase, due to an upper age limit, but the statistics suggest otherwise. Over the last 50 years, from 1960 to 2010, around 10 years have been added to the average lifespan of a male, and eight years to a female's.
Upper limit to lifespan not yet reached
In concluding their report, the ONS stated that the information suggests an upper limit to lifespan has not yet been reached, and an increase in the average age of death will almost certainly be seen. To put this in to context, in 1841 life expectancy at birth for males was just 40, and 42 for females (mostly because so many infants and young children died).
However, with the increasingly ageing population come the long-held concerns over the welfare system and health care, pensions and retirement ages. Sajid Javid, economic secretary to the Treasury warned earlier this month that public sector pensions required a drastic overhaul, as a result of the unprecedented number of people simply living longer.
Age UK's Charity Director General, Michelle Mitchell commented: 'That so many of us are now living to 85 and beyond is cause for celebration.
'What we need to do now is to make sure that those of us who make up this growing part of the population are able to live as fulfilling and dignified lives as possible and can continue to participate in our local communities.
'That means we as a society mustn't overlook the needs and desires of the oldest among us.'
Copyright Press Association 2012