Thinking about death might sound morbid, but it is actually a good thing.
An awareness of our mortality can motivate us to make healthy lifestyle choices and re-prioritize financial and personal goals.
So, how many years does the average Canadian live? Canada has a higher life expectancy than most industrialized countries, which is a good thing. But your life expectancy depends on a number of factors, including where you live.
Let's dive into the details.
What is the Average Life Expectancy in Canada?
Life expectancy refers to the age to which an individual is likely to live, or the remaining number of years an individual is likely to live. Life expectancy in Canada is one of the highest in the world. According to a 2021 report from Statistics Canada, the average life expectancy in Canada is 84.67 years for women and 80.62 years for men.
Factors Influencing Life Expectancy
Many factors affect life expectancy. Some of them are in your control, while others are not.
There appears to be a direct correlation between genetic factors and longevity. Research shows genetics plays a role in a number of common causes of death, including:
- Heart disease
- Chronic lower respiratory disease
- Alzheimer’s disease
How long you are likely to live also depends on your gender; women tend to live longer than men on average.
A serious illness could shorten your life. For example, a study found that asthma may reduce your life expectancy by around 3 years if you were otherwise healthy.
Higher education levels are linked to higher socio-economic status, and both of these are linked to greater longevity.
- Socio-economic status
There’s a strong link between socio-economic status and life expectancy. The lower the socio-economic status, the lower the life expectancy. Among other things, a lower socio-economic status may impact a person’s ability to receive adequate medical care and participate in healthier lifestyle habits such as exercising more.
- Environmental factors
Long-term exposure to toxins, pollution, or climate change side effects can reduce your life expectancy.
Healthy lifestyle habits — like exercising regularly, eating healthy, and not smoking — not only contribute positively to quality of life but can also lengthen life.
For example, quitting smoking by age 34 can add a decade to your life. However, it is never too late to adopt healthy habits. Even at age 64, quitting can increase your lifespan by 4 years.
- Marital status
Married persons tend to have longer life expectancy than those who are not married or are divorced or widowed.
Some jobs involve more safety risks than others. If you have a risky job, like construction work or policing, it could affect your longevity.
Regional Differences in Life Expectancy
Life expectancy in Canada can vary greatly from province to province. Quebec tops the list with an average life expectancy of 83 years, while Nunavut, which has an average life expectancy of 71 years, sits at the bottom.
Here’s the average life expectancy in Canada by province:
Improving Life Expectancy
Contrary to what many people think, life expectancy is not largely determined by genetics. As it turns out, environmental factors such as lifestyle and diet are the keys to a long life.
Here are the top healthy habits you can embrace to set yourself up for a long and healthy life.
- Exercise daily: Just 15 minutes of exercise daily may add up to 3 years to your life.
- Eat healthy: Cutting down on red meat and consuming a lot of plant based food like vegetables, fruits, nuts, and whole grains may considerably lower the risk of premature death.
- Quit smoking: Given that smoking is one of the leading risk factors for early death, it should come as no surprise that kicking the habit can significantly increase your longevity. Quitting smoking can increase your lifespan by up to 10 years, compared to if you continued to smoke.
- Reduce alcohol consumption: Heavy alcohol intake is linked to heart, liver, and pancreatic disease, apart from being a risk factor for premature death. Reducing the intake of alcohol to moderate levels may lower your risk of early death by almost 18%.
- Avoid chronic anxiety and stress: People with chronic anxiety and stress are two to three times more likely to die prematurely than their more relaxed counterparts. If you are struggling with stress, try relaxation techniques, exercise, and therapy.
What does life expectancy have to do with life insurance?
When most people think about life insurance, they think about their health: their current health, lifestyle habits, and family history. However, all of them contribute directly to one thing — life expectancy.
Life expectancy is the single most important factor insurers look at while evaluating a person’s insurability. In the context of life insurance, life expectancy refers to the average number of years an individual of a certain age is likely to live as shown on a mortality table, also known as a life table or actuarial table.
Based on your life expectancy, an insurer decides:
- Whether to write you a policy or not
- Your premium rate
The higher your life expectancy, the lower the premium rate. If you have a shorter life expectancy, in most cases, you will still receive approval but will have to pay higher premiums. For example, someone with a chronic health condition or dangerous job can get a standard (read: fully-underwritten) life insurance policy, but they will have to pay extra.
What if you don’t qualify for a standard life insurance plan?
A very small number of applicants (e.g. those with a terminal illness) may not qualify for standard policies, but that doesn’t mean they cannot buy life insurance coverage. Consider guaranteed issue life insurance if underlying health issues have put a term or whole life plan out of your reach. Because guaranteed issue policies don’t involve much underwriting, one can qualify despite poor health.
Life expectancy refers to the number of years a person of certain age is expected to live based on statistical data. Canada has one of the highest life expectancy among developed countries. Apart from genetics, a host of factors can influence your life expectancy, including where you live, health, lifestyle choices, occupation, and socio-economic status.
If you're looking for life insurance to protect your loved ones for when you eventually pass away, reach out to a Dundas Life licensed advisor today.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is health-adjusted life expectancy (HALE)?
Health-adjusted life expectancy (HALE) is the average number of years that an individual can expect to live in full health. It is more comprehensive than life expectancy because it not only considers the length of life, but also the quality of life.
How does gender affect life expectancy in Canada?
The average lifespan is roughly 4 years longer for women than men in Canada. Life expectancy at birth in Canada in 2021 for women was 84.67 years, in comparison to 80.62 years for men.
How does lifestyle affect life expectancy?
Many people think life expectancy is largely determined by genetics, but that is not so. Lifestyle choices play a major role too. Exercising regularly and following a healthy diet can increase your life expectancy. Other factors, such as cutting down on alcohol, may lower the risk of certain diseases.
According to a study, middle-aged people with multiple long-term conditions can increase their lifespan by 6 to 7 years by making healthy lifestyle choices.
How does life expectancy in Canada compare to other countries?
Compared to other developed countries, Canada has one of the highest life expectancies at birth. In 2021, the average life expectancy in Canada was 80.62 years for men and 84.67 years for women.