Research Press Release

Ageing: Life expectancy to outpace healthy working life expectancy in England

Nature Aging

January 21, 2022

Healthy working life expectancy in England is predicted to increase at a slower pace than overall life expectancy up to 2035, according to a study in Nature Aging. This finding highlights the need to identify measures to help promote a healthy working lifespan.

The state pension age in several European countries is set to increase in line with projected increases in life expectancy. However, although lifespan has increased, the period that older people spend in good health and are able to work has not necessarily extended at the same rate.

Marty Lynch and colleagues used mortality and health survey data collected between 1996 and 2014 to project future trends in life expectancy and healthy working life expectancy — defined as the average number of years from age 50 that people can expect to be healthy and in work — for men and women aged between 50 and 75 years old in England. The authors forecast that life expectancy gains from age 50 will average 10.7 weeks and 6.4 weeks per year for men and women, respectively, between 2015 and 2035. Gains in healthy working life expectancy, however, are projected to average only 1 week for men and 2.8 weeks for women per year during this same period.

The findings project a widening gap between life expectancy and healthy working life expectancy in England, highlighting the importance of additional policy measures to support workers’ health and wellbeing, the authors conclude. The study does not, however, provide insights into the drivers of this observed discrepancy.


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