When it comes to living your life, how long is too long? This is a very difficult question to answer. If you remain fit and healthy with a sharp mind well into your late nineties, you might settle for that. On the other hand, struggling with poverty, disability and chronic ill health in your later life could give you a different perspective.
Having enough financial security and a regular income becomes very important at both ends of the spectrum. If you are fortunate enough to be fit and healthy, you need money to socialise, keep fit, travel widely and enjoy the arts. If in chronic ill health, your savings and income may allow better care or faster treatment.
In our blog, ‘Scoring your own century’, we wrote about living a 100-year life. This current blog refines that topic based on further analysis from the Office for National Statistics’ (ONS) national life tables for England and Wales.
The ONS data produces the ‘average’ life expectancy based on age and sex. But what if you are not average? What then? Does it really make a material difference?
Terminology used by ONS
Healthy life expectancy (HLE) is an estimate of the number of years lived in ‘very good’ or ‘good’ general health.
Disability-free life expectancy (DFLE) is an estimate of the number of years lived without a long-lasting physical or mental health condition that limits daily activities.
All the data is then divided into 10 segments, from the top 10% (least deprived) to the bottom 10% (deprivation).
What does the information tell us?
It may be a case of stating the obvious, but there is a material difference depending upon which 10% you may fit in. Figure 1 and figure 2 charts below show the latest results for men and women.
At birth, there is almost a 10-year gap based on male life expectancy between the most deprived and least deprived categories: 73.9 years compared to 83.3 years. For females, the ages are 78.8 years and 86.2 years respectively.
When it comes to living a healthy life expectancy, the gap widens. For the most deprived male category, this comes to 51.9 years. The least deprived, it is 70.4 years, almost an additional 20 years of life in ‘good’ general health. For females, there is a similar 19-year gap: 51.8 years and 70.7 years.
What happens when you get older?
The figures above are based on birth outcomes. The results are different if you are already aged 65 for example.
The trend is the same, but the gap narrows. The life expectancy gap for men amounts 5.1 years while for women it is 4.6 years.
Living a healthy life expectancy, however, still produces a wide gap. For men in the most deprived category, they are expected to live an extra 6.2 years in ‘good’ health from the age of 65, while men in the least deprived category will live 13.3 more years in ‘good’ health. For women, these figures come to 6.8 years and 14.5 years respectively.
According to the ONS, “sizeable socioeconomic inequalities persist at age 65 years”.
Is the gap getting better or worse?
The ONS reported the differences between their 2014-2016 data compared to 2011-2013, and the detailed the following conclusions. “There was a statistically significant increase in the socioeconomic inequality in life expectancy for males and females at birth and at age 65 in England. The observed results were more consistent with a worsening picture of socioeconomic health inequality.”
What does the deprivation index measure?
There are seven domains based on the deprivation index
3. Education, skills and training
4. Health and disability
6. Barriers to housing and services
7. Living environment
The results from the ONS show that none of these domains should be taken for granted. Indeed, not having all or most of them can have negative life-changing effects.
Does it matter where I live?
Yes, it does. However, simply relocating to Wokingham or Richmond upon Thames probably won’t deliver magical results by itself.
And yes, there is a statistical North-South divide - see Figure 3 below.
There is no material change to the results for the aged 65 categories apart from one observation. Dorset comes into the top-five for men and women, possibly due to the county’s attractions for affluent retirees.
When it comes to gender, does it matter?
Yes, it does. The ONS data is quite clear. At birth, men can expect to live 79.5% of their life free from disability, though for women this falls to 76%. The Figure 1 chart below shows the results at birth and at age 65.
Fortune favours the prepared mind
Louis Pasteur, the French microbiologist, was credited with this quotation in 1854. It may have been a translation of “In the fields of observation chance favours only the prepared mind.”
Some people believe that life itself is a game of chance. Whatever your own views, being prepared for your own outcomes is a good thing to do, and a key part of this preparation is financial security and independence.
The ever-present question is: do you have enough? That is, enough money for a fit and healthy lifestyle, and all it contains, and enough for life’s hard knocks, disabilities or chronic ill health.
If you could benefit from an impartial second opinion, please contact Capital to speak to one of our chartered financial planners.
At Capital, we really do believe in being prepared for all eventualities.