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Demographic analysis: Remaining life expectancy, by level of education

Slight increase in life expectancy for single women with a low education level

Statistical news from Statistics Sweden 2020-05-28 9.30

Average life expectancy has increased in all population groups since 2012. The smallest increase was among single women with the lowest education level, while the largest increase was among co-habiting men with the lowest education level.

Average life expectancy is higher among women than among men, higher for co-habiting persons than for single persons, and higher for those with a longer education compared with those who have a shorter education. Average life expectancy is increasing steadily in Sweden, both among women and among men. The same applies in most other countries.

In 2019, at 65 years, remaining life expectancy was 22 years for women and around 19.5 years for men. Compared with 2012, average life expectancy has increased by just under one year for women and just over one year for men. However, the size of the increase has varied for different groups. The largest increase was among persons with post-secondary education and somewhat smaller among those with upper secondary education and compulsory education. The increase was largest among those with the highest life expectancy. However, for women, the increase was even larger for women as a whole. This is due to the increasing proportion of women in the group with the highest level of education, who also have the highest average life expectancy.

Remaining life expectancy at 65 years, by sex, level of education and differences between groups, 2012 and 2019 and change
 Women  Men
 20122019Change20122019Change
Education-level            
Compulsory 20.17 20.72 0.55 17.67 18.60 0.93
Upper secondary 21.34 22.00 0.66 18.73 19.46 0.73
Post-secondary 22.93 23.73 0.80 20.15 21.28 1.13
Total 21.04 22.01 0.97 18.50 19.56 1.06
Differences between groups            
Upper secondary-compulsory 1.17 1.28 0.11 1.06 0.86 ‑0.20
Post-secondary-upper secondary 1.59 1.73 0.14 1.42 1.82 0.40
Post-secondary-compulsory 2.76 3.01 0.25 2.48 2.68 0.20

The statistics refer to people born in Sweden aged 65 years or older.

For the last few years, there has been a trend of increasing differences in life expectancy, both among women and men. The difference between men with upper secondary and compulsory education is an exception, where the gap is smaller in 2019 compared with 2012.

Major differences for singles

There are clear differences in average life expectancy based on level of education among each of the groups single persons, co-habiting persons and other households. In each of the various education groups, co-habiting persons also have a higher average life expectancy than single persons and those who live in other households. The difference between the groups with post-secondary education and compulsory education is greatest among single women, 3.6 years, and smallest for co-habiting men, 1.8 years. For both women and men, the difference between the education groups is smallest among co-habiting persons.

Remaining average life expectancy at 65 years, by sex, level of education and type of household 2019

Graph: Remaining average life expectancy at 65 years, by sex, level of education and type of household 2019

The statistics in the figure show persons born in Sweden aged 65 years or older. Other households may, for example, include several generations or multi-person households, such as elderly care homes.

There are some differences between the sexes with regard to variations in life expectancy based on level of education and type of household. Among single persons and co-habiting persons, the difference in life expectancy between education groups is slightly larger among women than among men. Among men, there was instead a slightly larger difference between co-habiting persons and single persons for those with compulsory and upper secondary education. This is exemplified by co-habiting men with compulsory education, whose life expectancy is 1.3 years more than single men with post-secondary education, 20.4 years compared with 19.1 years remaining. Among women, instead single persons with post-secondary education have a higher life expectancy than co-habiting persons with compulsory education, 23 years compared with 22.3 years remaining.

Small increase in life expectancy among women with lowest level of education

In the period 2012–2019, the average life expectancy increased the most for co-habiting persons with post-secondary education, while it barely increased at all for single women with compulsory education. In comparison, life expectancy for co-habiting men with compulsory education increased the most between 2012 and 2019, by 1.4 years.

Change in remaining average life expectancy at 65 years between 2012 and 2019, by sex, household type and level of education

Chart: Change in remaining average life expectancy at 65 years between 2012 and 2019, by sex, household type and level of education

The statistics in the figure show persons born in Sweden aged 65 years or older.

Definitions and explanations

Average remaining life expectancy is normally referred to as “life expectancy”. This is an index that describes mortality at all ages for a year or a specific period. Mortality rates are presented in a life table and the average number of remaining years is calculated for all ages. Here, the number of remaining years is calculated from 65 years.

The statistics refer to persons born in Sweden, aged 65 years or older, who were registered in the population between 2011 and 2019. 

These statistics have been produced based on data in Statistics Sweden’s Population Register, Household Register, and Education Register.

Publication

The statistics are published as complete life tables from 30 years in the Statistical Database on Statistics Sweden’s website in three different tables for the years from 2012 to 2019:

  • Education level, region of birth (Swedish born and foreign born), sex, year and age
  • Education level, household type, sex, and age (limited to the population born in Sweden)
  • Level of education, county, sex, five-year period and age (limited to the population born in Sweden)

These statistics are also published in tables and figures with comments on remaining life expectancy at 30 years and at 65 years.

Statistical Database

More information is available in the Statistical Database

Feel free to use the facts from this statistical news but remember to state Source: Statistics Sweden.

Statistical agency and producer

Statistics Sweden, Forecast Institute

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Box 24 300
104 51 Stockholm
E-mail
demografi@scb.se

Enquiries

Örjan Hemström

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orjan.hemstrom@scb.se