Life expectancy in Canada--an overview

Health Rep. 1990;2(4):361-76.
[Article in English, French]


At 73 years for men and more than 80 years for women, Canada's life expectancy at birth compares favourably with other developed countries; Japan currently leads the world with 75.6 years for men and 81.4 years for women. In 1920-1922, fewer than six out of ten Canadians could expect to survive to their 65th birthday; by 1985-1987, this had risen to eight out of ten. At the oldest ages, the increases in survival are even more striking. In 1920-1922, just over one in ten Canadians could expect to reach their 85th birthday; by 1985-1987, this had increased to more than three out of ten. Since the 1920s, life expectancy has been higher in the Western provinces and lower in Atlantic Canada and Quebec. In 1950-1952, for example, a person born in Saskatchewan could expect to live four years longer than a person born in Quebec. By 1985-1987, this difference had been reduced to just over one year. Women have made much greater gains in life expectancy than men. In 1920-1922, women had an advantage in life expectancy over men of less than two years; by 1970-1972, this had more than tripled to seven years. Married men and women have a distinct advantage in longevity over other marital status categories. Married men may expect to live over eight years longer than never-married men, and more than ten years longer than widowed men. Married women can expect to live three years longer than never-married women, and four years longer than women who are either divorced or widowed. As of 1986, a boy born in highest-income quintile area in urban Canada can expect to live almost six years longer than a boy born in a lowest-income quintile area. For girls, the difference is almost two years. However, this socio-economic differential narrowed from 1971 to 1986.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Canada / epidemiology
  • Cause of Death
  • Demography
  • Europe
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Japan
  • Life Expectancy*
  • Longevity
  • Male
  • Marriage
  • Sex Factors
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • United States