Throughout the 20th Century, the UK experienced steady improvements in life expectancy at birth, resulting in a larger and older population. This has been attributed to healthier lifestyles among the population as it ages, such as reduced smoking rates, and improvements in treating infectious illnesses and conditions such as heart disease. But in recent years, the progress has slowed. And in the latest data it has ground to a halt. Life expectancy in the UK has stopped improving for the first time since 1982, when figures began. In some parts of the UK, life expectancy has even decreased.
Women's life expectancy from birth remains 82.9 years and for men it is 79.2, the figures from the Office for National Statistics, for 2015-17, show.
For men and women in Scotland and Wales, it declined by more than a month. Men in Northern Ireland have seen a similar fall. For women in Northern Ireland, and for men and women in England, life expectancy at birth is unchanged.
The ONS said there was "much ongoing debate" about the reasons behind this and what direction the trend may take in the future. Some have argued that government austerity policies, such as cuts to social care budgets in England, must have played a part.
"Poverty, austerity and cuts to public services are impacting on how long people are living in the UK," he said. "We all need to look after our health but many of us, including the most vulnerable populations, need help at a time when evidence suggests that services are being cut. The lost years of life have an impact not just on the individual but on those people who are ultimately left behind including partners, children and grandchildren."
The data also shows that the UK lags behind other leading countries for life expectancy, including Switzerland, Japan, France, the Netherlands, Spain, and Italy. Of the countries, the ONS compared the UK with, Switzerland was the nation with the longest life expectancy for men. For women, it is Japan. Men in Switzerland are expected to live to 81.5 years. Women in Japan are predicted to live to 87. The population in the UK of people who are 90 or over is still increasing but this is due to previous improvements in life expectancy going back many decades.