Historically, period life expectancy has been used to monitor population health, not least since mortality data is readily obtainable and generally comparable across countries. This assumption was reasonable when acute, infectious diseases formed the main burden of ill-health but there has been a shift to more long-standing, chronic diseases, and mortality rates no longer correlate as well with the burden of ill-health in the population. New measures are therefore needed and one such is health expectancy, which captures the quality as well as the quantity of life.
What you find in this issue
- Describes health expectancy, how it is estimated and why it is important.
- Considers time trends in healthy life expectancy for the UK and Europe and whether the extra years of life are healthy ones.
- Shows the size of disparities in healthy life expectancy within Europe and the UK and discusses possible explanations and the implications for future population health.
- Provides the main sources of information on health expectancy estimates.
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