In France, “life expectancy at birth is increasing regularly, even if it has been affected by the Covid-19 epidemic and has not yet returned to its 2019 value, before the epidemic », underlines the Directorate of Studies and Statistics of Social Ministries (Drees) in a study published this Friday.
“But these additional years of life are not all necessarily lived in good health,” notes the Drees, which publishes each year an indicator measuring this healthy life expectancy.
More than ten years of disability-free life
According to the Drees, 65-year-old women can still hope to live 11.8 years on average without disability, that is to say without being limited in the activities of daily life due to a health problem. Their total life expectancy is, at this age, still 23.8 years.
At 65, men live on average 10.8 years without disability, and 19.2 years in total.
Note that disability-free life expectancy at age 65 has increased since 2008 by one year and 9 months for women, and by one year and six months for men, details the Drees.
For both men and women, life expectancy without severe disability has also increased since 2008, by 1 year and 8 months for women and 1 year and 5 months for men. At age 65, women can therefore hope to live another 18.3 years without being severely limited by a health problem, compared to 15.5 years for men.
The impact of the health crisis
Despite these upward trends, Drees emphasizes that changes in life expectancy without disability and without severe disability at age 65 have been “very bumpy” since 2019 and the Covid-19 crisis.
“In 2020, the increase in mortality caused by the Covid-19 epidemic pushed these indicators downward, we can read in the report. These indicators then rebounded strongly in 2021, erasing their decline in 2020 and even exceeding the level they would have reached following their pre-crisis trends. In 2022, however, at the end of the health crisis, life expectancies without disability and without severe disability at age 65 will decline and return to their 2020 level.”
“Despite this decline in 2022, these indicators remain significantly higher than their 2008 level,” indicates the Drees.
France, a good European student
In 2021, the most recent year for which these data are available for all European countries, France was ranked fourth in the European Union of 27 for disability-free life expectancy for men at age 65, with a level above the European average (+1 year and 10 months). For women, France is in third place, again above the European average (+2 years and 8 months).
France is also the 2nd country among the 27 countries of the European Union where the life expectancy of women at 65 is the highest, and the 3rd for the life expectancy of men at 65.
Drees notes that France’s good position is consistent with the fact that in 2021, healthy life expectancy indicators at age 65 have increased significantly in the country. “The sharp drop in disability-free life expectancies in France in 2022 could return its position to the situation prevailing before the health crisis,” points out the report.