New Zealand Life Expectancy

Life expectancy data shows New Zealanders are living progressively longer, and women are living longer than men. 

What is the average life expectancy in New Zealand?

According to the most recently available data from the World Bank, New Zealand life expectancy at birth in the year 2015 was 81.46 years. Male babies born in 2015 were expected to live to 79.73 years while female newborns were expected to live to 83.27 years. 

Data from the World Bank also shows that mortality rates are going down, with the adult male mortality rate in 2013 (most recent data) being 80.56 per 1,000. Comparatively, the mortality rate for adult females in 2013 was 52.52. 

In 2015, Statistics New Zealand reported that the gap between Māori and non-Māori life expectancy at birth narrowed to 7.1 years. Māori female babies were expected to live to 77.1 years and Māori male babies to 73 years, compared to non-Māori female babies who were expected to live to 83.9 years and non-Māori males 80.3 years. 

Statistics New Zealand has a calculator to estimate how long you might live, which may be useful when thinking about your future and retirement planning. It uses historical data starting from 1876, including the latest national population projections. You can find more information about the calculator here. 

Life expectancy in New Zealand vs. other countries

According to the World Bank, life expectancy in New Zealand is similar to some developed countries and is actually above countries like the United Kingdom, and the United States even more so. 

Sitting slightly ahead of New Zealand, World Bank data shows Japan’s life expectancy for babies born in 2015 was 83.84 years, Australia was 82.45 and the United Kingdom was 81.62. But life expectancy in the United States in 2015 was only 78.74 years. 

To provide some perspective, the World Bank recorded global life expectancy at birth at 71.4 years in 2015 – 69.1 years for males and 73.8 years for females. Women are living longer than men all over the world, with the gap between the sexes remaining almost consistently 4.5 years between 1990 and 2015. 

Life expectancy at birth, total (years): 


Source: The World Bank, 2018. 

What factors affect life expectancy? 

There are a number of factors that can affect your own personal life expectancy, predominantly when you’re born and your gender. But location, medical conditions and family medical history also all play a role in determining your life expectancy. 

Your personal life expectancy and the life expectancy of a population is also affected by socioeconomic status, education, employment, substance addictions and exposure to danger. It’s pretty obvious, and backed by health professionals, that smoking or drinking excessively will dent your life expectancy and overall wellbeing. 

The World Health Organisation (WHO) lists alcohol, road traffic injuries and tobacco as some of the major risk factors in New Zealand’s country profile. The data shows that in both total alcohol consumption and heavy episodic drinking classifications, males aged 15+ drink far more than females of the same age. 


Source: World Health Organisation, 2014. 

How does life expectancy affect life insurance premiums?

Life insurance companies use life expectancy and mortality rate information to determine the premiums you will pay for life insurance. This process helps the insurer weigh up the level of risk that you may carry for the insurer. 

Every insurance provider will have their own set of assessment criteria. Some common criteria may include your age, gender, smoking status, alcohol consumption, medical history and occupation. These criteria may be used in conjunction with the sum you want to be insured for and policy features to determine premiums. 

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