Life expectancy

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
World map showing the life expectancy of people at the time of birth in the UN member states in color (2017).
70 years and above
  • 82 years and above
  • 80–81 years
  • 78–79 years
  • 76-77 years
  • 74-75 years
  • 72–73 years
  • 70–71 years
  • not available
  • Under 70 years
  • 65–69 years
  • 60–64 years
  • 55–59 years
  • 50–54 years
  • 45–49 years
  • 40–44 years
  • 35-39 years
  • under 35 years
  • Development of life expectancy in Germany 1960–2010

    The life expectancy is the average expected length of time that a living being until his from a given instant death , with certain assumptions to be based on the mortality rates remains. These are usually determined with the help of a life table , usually a period life table , which is based on observed mortality rates in the past and on model assumptions for their future development. In principle, the point in time from which the remaining life expectancy is to be determined can be selected as desired. In the general case, it is the period that begins with the biological development of the living being.

    In 2016, the global average life expectancy of people assuming constant death rates was 72.0 years of life .

    Calculating life expectancy

    Most often, life expectancy is calculated from the moment of entry into life - for people from birth . Life expectancy at birth indicates the average age that newborns of a certain age group would reach if the age-specific mortality rates remained constant in the future. Often the total population of newborns is not considered, but a subpopulation selected according to certain criteria (e.g. by place of residence, gender). Information about the statistical spread of life expectancy is interesting . In this sense, the term was applied to things and things, especially to products.

    Human life expectancy

    Life expectancy of men at birth, 2006
    Life expectancy of women at birth 2006

    Human life expectancy is determined by a wide variety of influencing factors, in particular the age in the calculation.

    Unless populations are decimated by wars, genocides, natural disasters, migrations, epidemics, famines or, in individual cases, accidents, the genetic predispositions of biological life expectancy ( cell aging ), quality of medical care, stress, nutrition and exercise play important roles. If the framework conditions are good, people can live to be 100 years or older. The oldest person to date ( Jeanne Calment ) reached an age of 122 years. The maximum life expectancy of humans has been the subject of controversy among researchers for many years: While some hold the view that humans (and most animals) can theoretically live indefinitely, many are convinced that there is a natural upper limit to the maximum life span. Statistical studies suggest that the latter is more likely to be the case and that people - under natural circumstances - cannot live to be older than an average of 115 to a maximum of 125 years, even under optimal conditions. The main reason the researchers cite is the continuous accumulation of DNA damage over the course of a person's life - with the result of harmful mutations and increasingly defective proteins and enzymes . Through a healthy lifestyle, certain medications and with the help of the body's own repair systems , this process can be slowed down, but ultimately not stopped: If the accumulated cell damage exceeds a certain threshold, the death of the individual is inevitable. This also applies if there was no previously fatal illness, such as B. a malignant cancer was present.

    The people in Monaco have the highest life expectancy with 89.52 years, the lowest life expectancy in the African country Chad with 49.81 years (as of 2015). In 2007, people in Andorra had the highest life expectancy with 83.5 years (2015: 82.72), the lowest life expectancy in the African country Eswatini with 34.1 years (2015: 51.05).

    Life expectancy is an important socio-economic measure. The higher it is for a certain group, the higher their standard of living , for example medical care, hygiene , drinking water quality and nutritional situation . Life expectancy is often differentiated according to gender , nationality , professional affiliation or according to a specially identified risk group . While the statistics that relate to countries or regions mainly show economic indicators, the distinction according to certain population groups, especially in the insurance industry, is used to calculate risks and to measure premiums or pensions .

    Life expectancy is calculated using mortality tables, which show the exact number of survivors and deaths per 100,000 inhabitants of earlier cohorts according to the average age of life or death in years.

    Example Germany

    In 2015, the average life expectancy of newborn boys was 77 years and 9 months (2010: 77 years and 4 months). The corresponding number for newborn girls was 82 years and 10 months (2010: 82 years and 6 months). The average life expectancy calculated in this way is an imprecise prognosis that essentially extrapolates the current trend. This could on the one hand be stopped abruptly by wars or epidemics or even turned into the opposite, but it could also be intensified, for example, by medical breakthroughs.

    In 2007 boys in the old federal states had a life expectancy of 76.9 years at birth, in the new federal states (excluding Berlin) it was 75.5 years. The east-west difference was 1.4 years. For newborn girls, the gap in favor of girls born in the West was 0.3 years.

    Life expectancy has increased continuously over the past few decades. Factors such as peacetime, increased income, higher standard of living, better food situation, etc. play a much greater role than medical progress or changes in cigarette consumption in the general population.

    In Germany in 2016/18, life expectancy was 78.5 years for men and 83.3 years for women.

    Life expectancy at the age of ...

    The further or average further life expectancy is relatively precise. It indicates how many more years of life people of a certain age will continue to live on average according to the mortality rates applicable in the current reporting period.

    Further life expectancy increases with age, as various mortality risks have already been survived. According to data from 2018, a newborn boy in Germany has a life expectancy of around 78 years, at the age of 5 it is 79 years, at the age of 50 it is 80 years, at 60 it is 82, at 70 it is 84, at 80 it is 88 and at 85 it is 92 years. A newborn girl in Germany has a life expectancy of around 83 years, which is 5 years more than a boy. This distance decreases in the course of life. At the age of 50 life expectancy is 84 years, at 60 it is 85 years (3 years more than men), at 80 it is 90 years (2 years more) and at 85 it is 91 years (one year more than men ).

    Risk factors

    Genetic factors, inadequate nutrition, poor hygiene, unclean drinking water, stress and a lack of medical care mainly limit life expectancy. This was true of the pre-industrial era and still applies to many developing countries . Where these relationships are at an acceptable level, the following key factors, among others, are considered significant.

    As an American study shows, the increased life expectancy is still associated with a deterioration in the health of the elderly. The number of years in life in which people suffer a serious illness has also risen continuously. The aforementioned risk factors are also held responsible for this, as they are significantly more risky in old people than in younger people.

    Regarding disease-related mortality, key factors identified were: communicable and birth-related diseases that affect childhood. The results of the study apply worldwide, as all other important mortality risk factors (malnutrition, insufficient water supply, structural, personal and domestic hygiene conditions, unprotected sexual intercourse, tobacco use, alcohol, occupational safety, high blood pressure, sedentary lifestyle, drug use and air pollution) are statistically considered separately in each of the 107 world regions were.

    More than 20% of the 56 million people who died worldwide in 2001 were children under five. The probability of a 70-year-old person to live to be 90 is between 5% and 54%, depending on how favorable or unfavorable the above factors are. Alcohol consumption and cholesterol levels were also considered to be determining factors prior to this study; their influence was recognized as being significantly less in comparison.

    Worldwide comparison of men and women, The World Factbook 2011

    Influence of gender on life expectancy

    The relationship between life expectancy and a person's gender is clearly documented for Germany. A study by the German Actuarial Association e. V. (DAV) from 2008 shows for the last 130 years that the mortality of women in the age range from 20 to 70 is only about half as high as that of men. In most industrialized countries, women achieve a life expectancy that is four to eight years longer (western Germany five years, eastern Germany six years).

    Health awareness and lifestyle

    Scientists cite the lower health awareness of men as the cause of the different life expectancy, which is expressed, among other things, by the fact that men smoke more and drink more alcohol, and that they consult a doctor less often if they have symptoms of illness. A study published in 2011 that examined data from 30 European countries concluded that between 40 and 60 percent of the gender difference in life expectancy was due to smoking tobacco. 10 to 30 percent can be attributed to the consumption of alcohol. But also the higher willingness to take risks and the potentially higher morbidity rate in typical male occupations, which are often associated with hazardous work and physically damaging or stressful activities, are cited as causes. Further causes can be found in the articles Heavy Labor and Share of Women in the Private Sector .

    In a comparison of life expectancy between members of the order and the general population, the monastery study revealed that there are significantly lower differences in gender-specific life expectancy among members of the order. Compared to the general population, the life expectancy of monks is around 4.5 years significantly higher than that of the general male population, while there are no such differences between the female comparison groups. In addition to the higher tobacco consumption, the causes lie in the unequal distribution of stressors between women and men, the unequal selection caused by both world wars and their long-term long-term consequences, the lower participation of women in working life and housewife in combination with motherhood . In this way, biological causes of excess mortality in men can be largely excluded. Overall, the contribution of biological causes to male excess mortality is estimated at 0 to 2 years of life lost. All in all,

    "That women live a little longer, but above all men die earlier"

    - Marc Luy 2006 in "Do women live longer or do men die earlier?"

    Only certain groups of the male population seem to be responsible for the lower life expectancy of men. Paola Di Giulio from the Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research (MPIDR in Rostock ) identified the groups of "active bon vivants " (often overweight heavy workers and smokers; predominantly men) and the " nihilists " (corpulent non-athletes and preventive health care - in this group equal parts men and women). On the other hand, the group of “interventionists” (non-smokers, non-drinkers with a healthy diet and no stressful job) consists mainly of women.

    Hormonal factors

    Not only cultural factors but also hormonal and thus biological factors are responsible for the riskier lifestyle and the lower health awareness of men. In young men in particular, the sex hormone testosterone causes a greater willingness to take risks, which leads to higher mortality, especially from accidents. Testosterone also promotes the development of arteriosclerosis and thrombosis . In contrast, the female sex hormone estrogen has a health- promoting effect . It ensures a higher number of antibodies against infections. Estrogens cause a higher production of the "good" HDL in blood fat, improve the cholesterol values ​​accordingly and thus protect against heart attacks and strokes. In contrast, the male sex hormone testosterone is sometimes ascribed a life-shortening effect. Testosterone activates more than 20 genes that promote the development of cardiovascular diseases.

    Genetic factors

    Genetic factors are also relevant. Women have two X chromosomes in their genetic make-up, men one Y and one X chromosome. The Y chromosome only contains the sex-determining information. Since important genetic factors of the immune defense are on the X chromosome , women, unlike men, use the immunological potential of the X chromosomes of both parents. While hereditary diseases that are on a single X chromosome always have an effect in men, in women the information can be read off the healthy X chromosome in this case. Reading errors in genetic material increase in old age. Age-related changes in the active X chromosome can be compensated for in women by reactivating the second inactive X chromosome (X-linked reactivation), but not in men. Animal studies support the importance of this relationship. In mammals, for example, the males always have the XY combination and have a shorter life expectancy. It is the other way around with birds. Here, the female birds with the WZ combination have a shorter life expectancy than the male birds with two Z chromosomes .

    Events like war and environmental disasters

    A study of 141 countries between 1981 and 2002 showed that gender influences the death rate from natural disasters . According to this, natural disasters and their aftermath reduce the life expectancy of girls and women disproportionately more than the life expectancy of boys and men. Biological and physiological differences between the sexes, social norms, role behavior, discrimination in access to resources and the collapse of the order that exposes girls and women to more domestic and sexual violence, and above all the lower average socio-economic status of women are than Possible explanations listed.

    Significantly more men than women are killed in wars, which has a long-term impact on the statistics on life expectancy. “The gender ratio of 866 men per 1000 women calculated in the 1951 census [in Austria] has increased to 950 men per 1000 women by 2011. One reason for the excess of women at the time - the fallen men of both world wars - has continuously lost importance, since most of the war widows have now died. "

    Other explanations

    In many species of mammals, such as laboratory mice, the females live longer on average than the males. There are different explanations for this. Males are taller, and in a species of mammal, the smaller specimens on average live longer than the large ones. Small breeds of dogs can reach 16 years, while large dogs usually die after nine years. Small people also have a longer life expectancy than large ones. However, if the smaller body size is not genetic but results from poor nutrition, the rule is reversed: then taller people have a higher life expectancy.

    A study from 2005 found that the extent of a society's patriarchal orientation is related to the life expectancy of men. Accordingly, men in egalitarian societies live longer on average than men in patriarchal societies. The researchers argue that patriarchy harms men, even if it gives them certain advantages.

    Marital Status and Divorce

    Marital status is also related to life expectancy. According to a 1993 study, life expectancy was

    • in permanent partnership: men 71.1 years, women 82.2 years;
    • if widowed over 60 years: men 67.8 years, women 77.1 years;
    • for divorced persons: men 59.8 years, women 75 years.

    For men, the average age reached in every form of partnership except "single" (partnership, widowed, divorced) is lower than the general age reached (1993/95: 73 years), whereas women in a long-term partnership are older than what is generally reached Age (1993/95: 79.5 years). Divorce also has a far more negative impact on men than it does on women.


    There is a clear link between parenthood and life expectancy: mothers and fathers generally live longer than childless people. Depending on the number of children, life expectancy increases by up to 5 years. This was most recently proven by a study of four million Swedish women and men born between 1915 and 1960.

    However, the reason for the difference is still unclear, most popular theories can only explain part of the differences.

    Life expectancy of newborns


    Between 1960 and 2016, the duration of pension payments doubled due to increased life expectancy.

    Life expectancy of newborns (basis 2007–2009)
    Country / Territory
    Baden-WürttembergBaden-Württemberg Baden-Württemberg 78 years and 9.3 months 83 years and 6.8 months
    BavariaBavaria Bavaria 77 years and 4.6 months 82 years and 10.1 months
    BerlinBerlin Berlin 77 years and 5.2 months 82 years and 5.3 months
    BrandenburgBrandenburg Brandenburg 76 years and 6.9 months 82 years and 5.4 months
    BremenBremen Bremen 76 years and 4.4 months 81 years and 10.2 months
    HamburgHamburg Hamburg 77 years and 7.5 months 82 years and 6 months
    HesseHesse Hesse 77 years and 10.4 months 82 years and 8.6 months
    Mecklenburg-Western PomeraniaMecklenburg-Western Pomerania Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania 75 years and 5.9 months 81 years and 10.6 months
    Lower SaxonyLower Saxony Lower Saxony 76 years and 10.8 months 82 years and 5.6 months
    North Rhine-WestphaliaNorth Rhine-Westphalia North Rhine-Westphalia 76 years and 10.3 months 81 years and 10.7 months
    Rhineland-PalatinateRhineland-Palatinate Rhineland-Palatinate 77 years and 5.6 months 82 years and 5.1 months
    SaxonySaxony Saxony 76 years and 10.6 months 82 years and 10.2 months
    Schleswig-HolsteinSchleswig-Holstein Schleswig-Holstein 77 years and 5.1 months 82 years and 4.4 months
    SaarlandSaarland Saarland 75 years and 10.9 months 81 years and 5.9 months
    Saxony-AnhaltSaxony-Anhalt Saxony-Anhalt 75 years and 5.8 months 81 years and 8.1 months
    ThuringiaThuringia Thuringia 75 years and 5.2 months 82 years and 4.1 months
    old federal states 77 years and 8.1 months 82 years and 8 months
    new federal states 76 years and 5.9 months 82 years and 6.6 months
    GermanyGermany Germany 77 years and 6.3 months 82 years and 7.7 months


    Life expectancy in Austria in 2010 was 77.7 years for men and 83.16 years for women at birth. Newborns have the highest life expectancy in Vorarlberg (78.85 / 84.15 years).

    Life expectancy of newborns (2010)
    BurgenlandBurgenland Burgenland 77.55 years 83.16 years
    CarinthiaCarinthia Carinthia 77.67 years 83.56 years
    NiederosterreichLower Austria Lower Austria 77.56 years 83.03 years
    OberosterreichUpper Austria Upper Austria 77.99 years 83.44 years
    SalzburgState of Salzburg Salzburg 78.62 years 83.87 years
    StyriaStyria Styria 77.78 years 83.53 years
    TyrolTyrol (state) Tyrol 79.05 years 84.03 years
    VorarlbergVorarlberg Vorarlberg 78.85 years 84.15 years
    ViennaVienna Vienna 76.6 years 81.94 years
    AustriaAustria Austria 77.7 years 83.16 years

    Social inequality and life expectancy

    Life expectancy is higher in countries with lower inequality

    For many countries, there is a clear connection between people's life expectancy and their social status - as measured by educational attainment, professional status or income. These findings were the starting point for calling for a specific strategy to reduce health inequalities at European level. For Germany, analyzes based on the Socio-Economic Panel ( SOEP ) show significant differences in income depending on life expectancy. So are at risk of poverty men on average only 70 and women 77 years old, while men and women with very high incomes almost 10 years longer (81 and 85 years). The results also indicate that the proportion of years of life spent in good health varies significantly.

    According to data from private pension insurance for the years 1995–2002, the death rate for recipients of high pensions is up to 20% lower than for recipients of low pensions. Data from the statutory pension insurance and the Federal Statistical Office show that the probability of dying within a year for a 65-year-old man differs depending on his pension status. For those insured by the then independent LVA workers' pension scheme, it was almost twice as high as for those insured by the then BfA employee insurance and for civil servants.

    Current models to explain the relationship do not assume a direct influence of social status on health and life expectancy. Instead, social status has an indirect effect, because it is an important determinant of differences in health-related factors - such as material and psychosocial resources and stress, as well as health behavior. The chances and risks for a healthy and long life are already laid in childhood and adolescence and solidify in the course of life through interactions between social status and state of health.

    Social differences in life expectancy are also economically relevant. According to Karl Lauterbach , the different pension periods between low-income and high-income pensioners lead to a redistribution from bottom to top in the system of statutory pension insurance .

    historical development

    Prehistoric period to the 19th century

    The average human life expectancy in prehistoric times is difficult to determine. It is noteworthy, however, that the body size decreased sharply at the beginning of the Neolithic . This allows conclusions to be drawn about the nutritional status.

    It is believed that Paleolithic hunters and gatherers had an average life expectancy of around 30 years at birth, while Neolithic farmers and ranchers lived to be only 20 years old. With these values, however, child mortality plays an enormous role. If you remove them, the age of death for adult hunters is between 68 and 78 years. The American anthropologist Marshall Sahlins assumes that such high values ​​also apply to the hunters of earlier times, and called them "original affluent societies".

    After the Neolithic Revolution, it has been proven that significantly more people fell ill than before - mainly infections . Most of them are likely to have arisen from frequent close contact between arable farmers and cattle after the introduction of cattle farming . The pathogens multiply within larger populations and do not die out as in small groups. Measles is said to have its origin in rinderpest .
    The introduction of agriculture and livestock farming initially meant poorer health for the people, and consequently a lower life expectancy. On the other hand, there is a significantly higher birth rate, but life expectancy increased only very slowly and probably only reached higher values ​​in the 18th century than before the Neolithic revolution.

    Before 1800, only small elitist groups such as the English nobility achieved a life expectancy for men of more than 40 years. In Asia, the value was just below that. In Europe, life expectancy was around 36 years around 1820. It was lowest in Spain and highest in Sweden. In Japan it was 34 years. Average life expectancy (at the time of birth) around 1800 worldwide was a maximum of 30 years, only rarely 35 years. More than half of the people did not reach adulthood. Life expectancy has increased faster and faster since the 19th century. In the 19th century, people got older faster than materially richer. Jürgen Osterhammel describes this democratization of the expectation of a long life as "one of the most important experiences in modern history". Exceptions to this were sub-Saharan Africa. The reasons for the explosive increase in life expectancy in the 19th century are seen in sanitary advances, in improved nutrition, in new health policy techniques or in combinations of these factors. Under no circumstances did life expectancy develop steadily in the 19th century. Rather, it initially decreased at the beginning of industrialization in England. The material life of the working population did not improve at first. In Germany, too, there was a similar development from 1820 onwards in the form of mass poverty in rural and urban areas. Diet could not keep up with the increasing biological energy demands of industrial work. In addition, the growing cities were breeding grounds for increasing infectious diseases .

    Globally, life expectancy in the 18th century was around 29 years. Since then, life expectancy has more than doubled in every region of the world.

    Development since the 20th century until today

    Life Expectancy in 1800, 1950, and 2015 - from Our World in Data

    Due to the different large and small-scale developments, life expectancy is now different around the world. While life expectancy has often fallen below 40 years in the countries of sub-Saharan Africa, which are hardest hit by the AIDS pandemic, in Iceland and Japan it is currently around 80 years. In Central Europe it has risen by about 40 years since 1840. The Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research speaks of three months by which life has become longer year after year.

    In Germany, mortality has decreased by an average of 0.8% annually since 1871. In the years from 1994 to 2004, this trend towards increasing life expectancy intensified; during this period mortality fell by as much as two percent a year. According to a calculation by the left-wing parliamentary group in the German Bundestag on the basis of figures from the German Pension Insurance, life expectancy for low-wage earners in Germany should have fallen from 77.5 to 75.5 years between 2001 and 2010. However, mortality cannot be calculated from the figures cited by the left-wing faction. These list the average duration of pension payments from the age of 65 for certain deceased in the respective years. According to the calculations of the left-wing parliamentary group, life expectancy for low-wage earners would also have fallen from 2001 to 2006; a scientific study by the Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research is available for this period, in which life expectancy is calculated using the usual scientific methods and the opposite occupied. In contrast, the differences in life expectancy between different income groups increased. Accordingly, life expectancy increased for all income levels from 2001 to 2006. As of January 1, 2012, no reliable scientific knowledge is available for the period after 2006; there is nothing to indicate a decrease in life expectancy at any income level.

    Life expectancy of other living things

    The survival curve for humans, elephants, crows, lizards and dandelions with different reproductive strategies.

    Life expectancy can also be determined for some animals and plants. It depends on many factors, on the species , on the living conditions, on diseases and predators, and, for example, on the temperature, the oxygen turnover and the basal metabolic rate .

    Examples of special ephemerality

    Some types of belly parsons only live about three days, making them among the most short-lived multicellulars . Unicellular organisms (to which most bacteria belong) multiply through cell division , which, depending on how you look at it, can be regarded as an extremely short lifespan (in the range of minutes or hours) or a practically unlimited lifespan.

    Some insects (such as mayflies ) can live for several years in total, but as adults they often only spend hours, from which their name is derived. At this stage they are not even able to eat and have no functioning mouthparts .

    Examples of special longevity

    The longevity of elephants, turtles, parrots and pine trees is well established. Ice sharks can live for over 400 years. There were redwoods like, for the basis of annual rings ( dendrologically was determined) an age of over 2000 years. More than 5000 years old specimens of the long-lived pine are known.

    The glass sponge Anoxycalyx joubini , a giant Antarctic sponge for which a life expectancy of 10,000 years could be calculated, was considered to be the most long-lived organism . For a fossil glass sponge Monorhaphis chuni in the East China Sea, an age of 11,000 ± 3,000 years was estimated based on the 'annual rings' of its silicon oxide needles.

    Bacteria can survive for thousands of years in the form of spores . For example, marine bacteria were extracted from salt deposits in a reproducible form. From the spores in the stomach of bees fossilized in amber , it was even possible to extract and identify over 100 reproductive bacterial species that had survived 25 to 40 million years. This type of survival as spores has nothing to do with life expectancy, since spores lack essential properties of life ( metabolism ).

    Organisms that emerge from one another through budding ( bacteria , freshwater polyps ) appear in principle to be immortal, but this approach completely ignores the fact that with each budding event there is a generation change, thus a new beginning for an individual.

    Influence of man

    Animals in captivity , kept in a species-appropriate manner and protected from predators , extreme weather conditions and food shortages, often reach a much older age than in the wild, animals for slaughter are much lower due to the system.


    The amount of food consumed has an impact on lifespan. It has been shown in a large number of animal species that a reduced diet, a so-called calorie restriction , can significantly extend the life span. In a study, 115 substances were able to increase the life expectancy of roundworms by between 30% and 60%. One of the active substances, which is similar in structure to an antidepressant, was examined more closely. It turned out that it influences the reaction to the body's own messenger substance serotonin, which is responsible for the feeling of hunger in humans. After eating, the anabolic hormone insulin is released, it stimulates the metabolism and promotes the division of some cells (such as adipocytes ). With poor food, less insulin is released and the cells live longer.


    Life expectancies of selected living beings
    Creature individually proven age Life expectancy
    Belly hooks 3 days 3 days
    Housefly 24 days 16-24 days
    Golden hamster 3 years 2-3 years
    Elephants 86 years about 60 years
    Yellow and breast macaw 104 years indefinite
    human 122 years 80 years
    Galápagos giant tortoise 176 years indefinite
    Bowhead whale 211 years indefinite
    Greenland shark 392 ± 120 years indefinite
    Iceland mussel 507 years indefinite
    Awning pine 2435 years indefinite
    Giant sequoia 3266 years indefinite
    Durable pine 4900 years indefinite
    Monorhaphis chuni
    (a fossil glass sponge )
    11,000 ± 3,000 years indefinite
    Root system of American Aspen Tree 80,000 years indefinite

    Definition of terms and misunderstandings

    The different uses of the term life expectancy often lead to unclear formulations and misunderstandings. These are due in particular to the fact that life expectancy is usually an estimate that changes over time.

    One important reason is that when looking at life expectancy, it is often overlooked that it increases with the age of the living individuals of the same birth cohort. Example: A cohort has a life expectancy of 75 years at birth. However, after 60 years, part of the original expectation has already died. The still living group of 60-year-olds now has a life expectancy of over 25 years, which means that they will reach an average age of 85 years. However, this does not change the average life expectancy at all. Using the same calculation, an 80-year-old has a remaining life expectancy that can total over 90 years. This is crucial when making demographic forecasts, for example when calculating pensions.

    A similar fallacy can occur with the life expectancy of certain occupational groups. The life expectancy of bishops is significantly higher than that of auto mechanics . This is primarily not because of the healthier way of life, but because bishops cannot die at 25 because they are not yet bishops at that point.

    Similarly, child mortality can disproportionately distort life expectancy from birth. For most of the Middle Ages, a total life expectancy of the population of 30 years and less is assumed. It should be noted that life expectancy was by no means constant due to epidemics, wars and disasters. The life expectancy of women was 24 to 25 years, that of men 28 to 32 years. However, if you look at the life expectancy of those who have survived the first year of life, it increases by leaps and bounds. If childhood was survived, the average age could be over 40. In industrialized countries, mortality in the first year of life is now less than one percent.

    The average life expectancy of men, which is lower than that of women, is influenced in the same way by the more risky lifestyle of young men during adolescence. Far more young men than women between the ages of 16 and 25 die from traffic accidents and other risk factors in this age group, which has an impact on statistical overall life expectancy. Men up to 65 years of age are 3.6 times more likely to die of cardiovascular disease than women. In the middle years in particular, up to around 65 years of age, almost twice as many men die as women.

    A special case is the life span observed on the life tables. Here, only looking back, it is determined when and how many people of a year of birth died. In the extreme case, one would only know the exact mortality for 100% of this one cohort 120 years after 1980 (in the example 2100).

    In addition, life expectancy, average age and maximum age are often not conceptually separated. For example, the Caucasus is considered to be home to a particularly large number of people aged 100 and older. However, the average life expectancy in these countries is significantly below the level of western industrialized countries.

    An indicator closely related to life expectancy is healthy life expectancy (also: disability-free life expectancy or healthy life years ). This denotes the number of years "that a person is expected to live in good health". In Germany, the “healthy life expectancy at birth” was given as 68.5 years for women and 64.8 for men (with large income-related differences).

    In terms of flora and fauna, record ages are often confused with average ages : elephants , for example, can reach an age of 70 years or more, but often die much earlier in the wild. Here the record age is often mistakenly equated with life expectancy ( see table above ).

    See also


    Web links

    Commons : Life Expectancy  - Collection of pictures, videos, and audio files
    Wiktionary: life expectancy  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

    Life expectancy calculator

    Individual evidence

    1. Global Health Observatory (GHO) data - Life expectancy at WHO, accessed November 25, 2019.
    2. K. Christensen, JW Vaupel: Determinants of longevity: genetic, environmental and medical factors In: J. General and Internal Medicine, Volume 240, Edition 6, 1996, pp. 333-341, doi : 10.1046 / j.1365-2796.1996 .d01-2853.x .
    3. ^ LA Gavrilov, NS Gavrilova: The Biology of Life Span: A Quantitative Approach . Starwood Academic Publishers, New York City 1991. In Gavrilov, Leonid A .; Gavrilova, Natalia S .; Center on Aging, NORC / University of Chicago : Book Reviews: Validation of Exceptional Longevity . In: Population Dev Rev . 26, No. 2, June 2000, pp. 403-4. Retrieved May 18, 2009.
    4. ^ DA Banks: Telomeres, Cancer, and Aging. Altering the human life span . In: JAMA: The Journal of the American Medical Association . 278, No. 16, 1997, pp. 1345-8. doi : 10.1001 / jama.278.16.1345 .
    5. Nature: Human age limit claim sparks debate In: Nature | News October 05, 2016.
    6. G. Dong, X. Milholland, B. Vijg, J .: Evidence for a limit to human lifespan. In: Nature published online, 05/10/2016.
    7. The World Factbook: Country Comparison :: Life Expectancy At Birth , January 2, 2016.
    8. Life expectancy in Jordan is higher than in the USA ( Memento from September 29, 2007 in the Internet Archive ),, August 15, 2007.
    9. Federal Statistical Office Germany: Current mortality tables for Germany (xls file) .
    10. Federal Statistical Office Wiesbaden
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