Key facts for Somerset:-
- Nationally Life Expectancy has been going up consistently over the last 15 years.
- In Somerset Life Expectancy has followed the same general pattern but dropped slightly in the most recent period, 2013-2015
- Disability free and healthy life expectancies have not kept pace with the general increase in overall life expectancy
- Both sexes are spending larger proportions of their lives in poorer health
- Women have a higher life expectancy than men but disability free and healthy life expectancies are similar for both sexes therefore women are likely to spend more of their life in poorer health.
Issues in detail
1. Life Expectancy
Life expectancy at birth is defined as the number of years a person living in an area could be expected to survive if they were to experience that area’s mortality rates (for all people) for the rest of their life. Life expectancy is often calculated using three or five year rolling averages to eliminate any effects of unusually large or small numbers of deaths in any one year.
- In the past 15 years, life expectancy at birth in Somerset has increased by around two years. Latest data indicates that a male born in Somerset between 2013 and 2015 can expect to live 80.5 years (+-0.3yrs).
- A female born at the same time can expect to live to 84.1 years (+-0.3yrs). Life expectancies for both males and females in Somerset are around a year higher than national averages.
- Life expectancy in the UK overall is 79.2 years for males and 82.9 years for females.
Source: ONS Life expectancy at birth and at age 65 by local areas, UK & Health state life expectancy - All ages, UK
- The gap between male and female life expectancy is closing. In the last decade in Somerset it has declined from 4.1 years (in 2003-05) to 3.8 years (in 2013-15). Though it had dropped to 3.5 years for the 2011-2013 period.
- Life expectancies for the 5 Districts vary by about 1.4yrs for both men and women.
- Taunton Deane has the lowest life expectancy for men and women
- West Somerset has the highest life expectancy for women while South Somerset is highest for men.
- Life expectancy in Somerset can vary considerably from area to area. In the five-year period between 2009 and 2013, the range for men was 9.3 years and for women was 13.2 years. The areas with the highest and lowest life expectancies are as follows:-
|| Bruton area
Source: ONS 2009-13
Public Health England have produced a Segment Tool which provides information on life expectancy and the causes of death that are driving inequalities in life expectancy at national, regional and local area levels. Targeting the causes of death which contribute most to the life expectancy gap should have the biggest impact on reducing inequalities.
A summary report for each local authority showing the charts and tables can be downloaded (in PDF format).
2. Health Expectancies
Health expectancies add a quality of life dimension to estimates of life expectancy (LE) by dividing expected lifespan into time spent in different states of health or disability. Healthy life expectancy (HLE), which estimates lifetime spent in “Very good” or “Good” health, is based on how individuals perceive their general health. The second is disability-free life expectancy (DFLE), which estimates lifetime free from a limiting persistent illness or disability. This is based upon a self-rated assessment of how health conditions and illnesses limit an individual’s ability to carry out day-to-day activities. (ONS)
In Somerset, though women have a higher life expectancy, the healthy and disability free life expectancies are relatively similar between the sexes.
People in Somerset and the South West spend a higher proportion of their lives in good health than the UK as a whole but despite the increasing life expectancies of both sexes, health and disability free life expectancies are not keeping pace therefore people are spending a smaller percentage of their lives in good health. This is likely to mean that though people are living longer, they will require more support for larger parts of their lives.