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Thomas StorringDirector – Economics and Statistics
Tel: 902-424-2410Email:

January 24, 2022

From 2017/2019 to 2018/2020, life expectancy at birth in Nova Scotia increased 1.6 months to 82.6 years for females and 0.7 months to 78.4 years for males. During the same period, life expectancy at birth declined by 1.1 months to 79.8 years for Canadian males and declined by 0.2 months to 84.1 years for Canadian females. Female life expectancy has generally been higher than that of males, though that gap has been closing as growth in male life expectancy has outpaced that of females over the available data period. In 2018/2020, the gap between Nova Scotian female and male life expectancy at birth was 4.2 years, compared to 7.5 years in 1980/1982. 

Historically, Nova Scotia's life expectancy at birth has been lower than that of Canada, varying by year and sex. The gap has widened in recent years as gains for Nova Scotia males and females have stalled while gains at the national level for both males and females have continued at a steady pace. 

The following two charts show Nova Scotian life expectancy by current age, expressed in two different ways. The first shows, at each given age, the number of years remaining that a person can expect to live while the second chart shows, at each given age, the age a person can expect to live to.

As can be seen, life expectancy remains fairly steady from birth until around age 60, after which it increases disproportionately. As well, beyond around age 60, the gap between male and female life expectancy begins to close.

The source of gains in life expectancy has also changed over time. During the 20th century, much of the gains in life expectancy came from decreases in the infant (under 1 year) and juvenile (between 1 and 4 years) mortality rate. However, in the 21st century, there have been more significant gains in life expectancy at age 60 and above compared to the two decades prior, and smaller gains below that.

In Nova Scotia, life expectancy, estimated on an annual basis was 80.6 years in 2020, an increase of 1.6 months from the previous year. Nova Scotia and New Bruncswick were the only two provinces that reported a year-over-year increase in 2020. Nationally, life expectancy declined 5.7 months to 81.7 years in 2020. Statistics Canada noted that the decline in life expectancy at the national level in from 2019 to 2020 was primarily due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 


Looking across the country, Nova Scotia had the seventh highest life expectancy among both males and females at birth. Male life expectancy at birth in 2018/2020 was the highest in Quebec at 80.8 years, followed by Ontario and British Columbia- three provinces above the Canadian average. Prince Edward Island has same life expectancy as the national average. All other provinces were below the national average. Ontario, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta and British Columbia have had a decline in male life expectancy since 2017/2019. 

British Columbia had the highest life expectancy at birth among females, followed by Ontario and Quebec. All other provinces were below the national average. 


Source: Statistics Canada. Table 13-10-0114-01 Life expectancy and other elements of the complete life table, three-year estimates, Canada, all provinces except Prince Edward IslandTable 13-10-0140-01 Life expectancy and other elements of the abridged life table, three-year estimates, Prince Edward Island and the territories

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