We can never know precisely how long we’ll live, but statistics show:
- New Zealanders are living progressively longer
- women live longer than men
- death rates continue to decline at all ages
- life expectancy increases further for each additional year we live.
Use our calculator to estimate how long you’ll live. Knowing how long you can expect to live can be useful when thinking about future needs and retirement planning.
To find out what age you’ll live to
- Open the Excel file in ‘Available files’ above (if you have problems viewing the file, see Opening files and PDFs).
- Enter the year you were born in, your age, and your sex.
- Our calculator will give you an indication of the age you’re likely to live to.
For example, a 52-year-old woman born in 1961 can expect to live to nearly 89 years based on medium death rates, beyond 87 years based on high death rates, but might live long enough to celebrate her 90th birthday based on low death rates.
The calculator can also give you an indication of potential lifespan at different ages. You can find out your potential lifespan now, and compare that with what it might be when you reach 65.
For example, a woman born in 1961 who reaches age 65 years can then expect to live to about 90 years based on medium death rates, nearly 89 years based on high death rates, and 91 years based on low death rates.
How certain are these estimates?
These estimates are based on the actual death rates of New Zealanders (from cohort life tables since 1876). For generations still alive, this is combined with information from the national population projections released in July 2012.
The statistics are more uncertain for younger New Zealanders, as they have a greater proportion of their collective lifetime remaining.
Life expectancy indicates the average length of life. It does not indicate how long a specific individual will live. An individual’s life expectancy can be affected by events such as accidents, epidemics, and wars, as well as experiences during their life (eg smoking, diet, environment). Life expectancy will also vary by ethnicity and socioeconomic position.
Definitions and assumptions
Life expectancy is the average length of life remaining at a given age. The life expectancy figures given in the tables are from birth to expected age at death.
This calculator is based on cohort life tables. These track actual death rates experienced by New Zealanders at each age, for those born in each year from 1876.
As the future can’t be predicted, assumptions are made about future death rates at each age, based on trends in New Zealand and overseas. The assumptions used here are from the latest national population projections (2011-base released in July 2012).
- The medium death rates relate to the 50th percentile (median) of the cohort life expectancy assumptions. These indicate a 50 percent chance that the given population will have an average length of life above the specified age.
- The low death rates relate to the 95th percentile of the cohort life expectancy assumptions. These indicate a 95 percent chance that the given population will have an average length of life above the specified age.
- The high death rates relate to the 5th percentile of the cohort life expectancy assumptions. These indicate a 5 percent chance that the given population will have an average length of life above the specified age.
Medium death rates are suitable for assessing future trends. But as the future is uncertain, future life expectancies are also calculated based on lower and higher death rates. This spread of rates gives a broad indication of life expectancy. All three death rates – low, medium, and high – assume that future death rates will continue to decline at all ages.
Updated 6 March 2014