National Vital Statistics System

Life Expectancy

silhouettes of people from all age groups

Life expectancy tells us the average number of years of life a person who has attained a given age can expect to live.

Life expectancy estimates from the National Center for Health Statistics provide a reliable snapshot of population health and mortality in the United States.

Understanding Life Tables

National life expectancy estimates are calculated using period (current) life tables. Life tables are used to measure mortality, survivorship, and the life expectancy of a population at varying ages.

Period life tables estimate how many more years a group of people who are currently at a particular age – any age from birth to 100 or more – can expect to live if the mortality patterns in a given year remain the same over the rest of their lives. Life tables can also be used to compare how life expectancy has improved or declined over time.

National-level life tables are released annually, as well as every 10 years (decennially) around the U.S. population census.

Animated cityscape portraying physically active people. Caption reads, ‘Where you live matters for how well and how long you live. USALEEP, neighborhood life expectancy project.’

Did you know that life expectancy varies by neighborhood?

Estimates for Life Expectancy at birth are now available nationwide for virtually every community in America.

Explore our new interactive map to see estimates for your area and compare with others across the country.

Publications
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Life Tables - Downloadable Files for Research

Researchers looking for downloadable Excel files of Life Tables can use the following links to access our FTP server and locate available tables by year:

Related Sites

Death Rates and Life Expectancy at Birth – This dataset of U.S. mortality trends since 1900 highlights the differences in Age-adjusted death rates and life expectancy at birth by race and sex.

The U.S. Small-area Life Expectancy Project (USALEEP) is a partnership between NCHS, NAPHSIS, and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

U.S. Census Bureau: American Community Surveyexternal icon presents detailed population and housing information about our nation.

Page last reviewed: August 7, 2020