, Volume 5, Issue 4, pp 279-285
Date: 28 Oct 2008

Trends in health expectancy at age 65 for various health indicators, 1987–2005, Denmark

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Abstract

Record life expectancy does not appear to be approaching its limit—it is still increasing, as is the maximum life span. An important question is whether the longer life is accompanied by an increasing lifetime in good health. The aim of the study was to determine the trends in health expectancy at age 65 in Denmark during the period 1987–2005, including the end of a period of stagnation (until 1995) and the beginning of a new period with increasing life expectancy (after 1994). The study was based on nationwide register data on mortality and data on health status from the Danish Health Interview Surveys carried out in 1987, 1994, 2000, and 2005. Expected lifetime in various health states was estimated with Sullivan’s method. Life expectancy at age 65 increased only after 1994 by almost 2 years among men and by about 1 year among women. The increase in expected lifetime without long-standing, limiting illness, lifetime without functional limitations, and lifetime with self-rated good health was all substantial in both genders (1.4–3 years depending on gender and health indicator), and was followed by a decrease in lifetime with the unhealthy state resulting in increasing proportions of lifetime in a healthy state. Overall, expected lifetime in good health increased more than life expectancy in both genders during the second half of the period 1987–2005, i.e. after the stagnation period.