Life expectancy at birth, total (years)

Definition: Life expectancy at birth indicates the number of years a newborn infant would live if prevailing patterns of mortality at the time of its birth were to stay the same throughout its life.

Description: The map below shows how Life expectancy at birth, total (years) varies by country. The shade of the country corresponds to the magnitude of the indicator. The darker the shade, the higher the value. The country with the highest value in the world is Hong Kong SAR, China, with a value of 84.11. The country with the lowest value in the world is Swaziland, with a value of 48.87.

Source: Derived from male and female life expectancy at birth from sources such as: (1) United Nations Population Division. World Population Prospects, (2) Census reports and other statistical publications from national statistical offices, (3) Eurostat: Demographic Statistics, (4) United Nations Statistical Division. Population and Vital Statistics Reprot (various years), (5) U.S. Census Bureau: International Database, and (6) Secretariat of the Pacific Community: Statistics and Demography Programme.

See also: Country ranking, Time series comparison

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Development Relevance: Mortality rates for different age groups (infants, children, and adults) and overall mortality indicators (life expectancy at birth or survival to a given age) are important indicators of health status in a country. Because data on the incidence and prevalence of diseases are frequently unavailable, mortality rates are often used to identify vulnerable populations. And they are among the indicators most frequently used to compare socioeconomic development across countries.

Limitations and Exceptions: Annual data series from United Nations Population Division's World Population Prospects are interpolated data from 5-year period data. Therefore they may not reflect real events as much as observed data.

Statistical Concept and Methodology: Life expectancy at birth used here is the average number of years a newborn is expected to live if mortality patterns at the time of its birth remain constant in the future. It reflects the overall mortality level of a population, and summarizes the mortality pattern that prevails across all age groups in a given year. It is calculated in a period life table which reflects a snapshot of a mortality pattern of a population at a given time. It therefore does not reflect actual mortality patterns that a person actually goes through during his/her life, which can be calculated in a cohort life table. High mortality in young age groups significantly lowers the life expectancy at birth. But if a person survives his/her childhood of high mortality, he/she may live much longer. For example, in a population with a life expectancy at birth of 50, there may be few people dying at age 50. The life expectancy at birth may be low due to the high childhood mortality so that once a person survives his/her childhood, he/she may live much longer than 50 years.

Aggregation method: Weighted average

Periodicity: Annual