Publication of Life Expectancy in Northern Ireland

Date published: 04 December 2019

The Official Life Expectancy Figures for Northern Ireland.

life expectancy

The Department of Health today published the statistical report ‘Life Expectancy in Northern Ireland 2016-18’. This publication is one of a series of reports produced as part of the NI Health & Social Care Inequalities Monitoring System (HSCIMS). The Department of Health are the official producers of life expectancy figures for Northern Ireland. This report presents the latest estimates of life expectancy, healthy life expectancy and disability-free life expectancy estimates for Northern Ireland. The report includes an analysis of change in life expectancy including the extent to which mortality within certain age groups and causes of death contributed to the change. In addition, life expectancy estimates are presented for Local Government Districts.

Key Findings

Current Life Expectancy Estimates

  • In 2016-18, life expectancy in Northern Ireland (NI) was 78.7 years for males and 82.4 years for females, similar to last year (2015-17).

Decomposition of Life Expectancy[1] Trend Over Last 5 Years

  • Male life expectancy increased by 0.4 years from 2012-14 (78.3 years) while female life expectancy was similar to that in 2012-14 (82.3 years).
  • Decreased mortality rates among 60-89 year olds contributed to the majority of the increase in male life expectancy over the period.
  • Reduced mortality from circulatory disease and cancer, among other causes, increased male life expectancy by 0.8 years. However this increase was offset by 0.4 years due to a rise in mortality for a range of causes, including digestive diseases and nervous system disorders (mainly Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease).
  • Compared with the previous 5-year period (2008-10 to 2012-14), when male life expectancy increased by 1.3 years, improvements have slowed down. This can largely be attributed to the positive contribution of reduced mortality from circulatory disease being less than half that compared with the previous period.
  • Despite no significant improvement in female life expectancy between 2012-14 and 2016-18, there was a reduction in mortality among those aged 50-59.
  • An improvement of 0.6 years in female life expectancy, mainly due to reduced mortality from circulatory disease and cancer, was largely offset by increased mortality from mental and behavioural disorders (mainly dementia) and nervous system diseases.
  • As with males, the positive contribution to female life expectancy since 2012-14 from reduced circulatory mortality was half that when compared with the previous period (2008-10 to 2012-14) when life expectancy increased by 0.9 years.

Gender Gap

  • In 2016-18, females in NI could expect to live 3.7 years longer than males.
  • Across all age groups, male mortality was higher than that of females, with the exception of those aged 0-9 where there was higher female mortality mainly from congenital causes.
  • Higher male mortality from cancer and circulatory disease accounted for 1.2 and 0.8 years of the gap respectively. Mortality from suicide was also higher among males and accounted for a further 0.5 years of the gender gap.

Life Expectancy at Age 65

  • Life expectancy at age 65 in 2016-18 was 18.4 years for males and 20.7 years for females.
  • Over the last five years, there has been no significant change in life expectancy at 65 for females. Over the same period, male life expectancy at age 65 has increased by 0.3 years.

Healthy and Disability-Free Life Expectancy

  • In 2016-18, male healthy life expectancy was 59.7 years, an increase of 1.0 years since 2012-14. Female healthy life expectancy was 60.8 years in 2016-18 and has not changed significantly from 61.7 years in 2012-14.
  • Disability-free life expectancy was 57.3 years for males and 57.2 years for females in 2016-18. This represents a decline for both genders since 2012-14, with a fall of 3.0 years for males and 4.6 years for females.

[1] Life table decomposition is a statistical technique that allows changes in life expectancy to be broken down into positive and negative contributions by age and cause of death.

Notes to editors: 

  1. This is a new, annual publication that is replacing the ‘Health Inequalities – Life Expectancy Decomposition’ series.
  2. All life expectancy analyses and calculations are based on official deaths data sourced from the General Register Office and population data published by NISRA. The methodology used to calculate life expectancy is consistent with that used in the HSCIMS bulletins.
  3. All healthy and disability-free life expectancy analyses and calculations are based on self-reported health data sourced from the Health Survey Northern Ireland and population data published by NISRA. The methodology used to calculate healthy and disability-free life expectancy is consistent with that used in the HSCIMS bulletins.
  4. This publication has been produced within four weeks of the Registrar General Annual Report release from which vital events data related to deaths could be obtained. As such, the figures for 2016-18 contained within this publication are the latest, official release of life expectancy estimates for Northern Ireland.
  5. A deprivation analysis of life expectancy estimates, including healthy and disability-free, will follow in the ‘Health Inequalities - Annual Report 2020’ to be published in March 2020.
  6. All HSCIMS reports and data tables are available to view and download from the Departmental website.

Additional Information

Further information on the Health and Social Care inequalities Monitoring System is available from:

Public Health Information & Research Branch
Department of Health
Annexe 2, Castle Buildings
Stormont, BT4 3SQ

Telephone: 028 9052 2501 or 028 9052 2591                              



7. For media enquiries please contact the Department of Health Press Office on 028 9052 0575 or email For out of hours please contact the Duty Press Officer on 028 9037 8110.

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