Expectation of life is the average number of years people would live under the current age-specific mortality rates, not the number of years that most people will live. In the 19th century death rates were highest at very young ages, particularly the first year, and in the later years from 60 onwards. Most people died as young children or in old age, so the average life span was about 40 years, but this was not the peak age at death. Males who reached 15 years had an average remaining life of 43 years, longer than the average life span at birth. In the 20th century death rates in childhood fell greatly, so that by 1999 male life expectancy at birth was 74 years, increased by 34 years since 1841, and at age 15 it was 59 years, increased by only 14 years since 1841. Most of the extra years of life were due to children surviving into adulthood (Intro 16.4). N.B. St George (1986) criticised the advertisements, he did not originate them!
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Last updated: 8 April, 2004.