Gapminder long trend combining our historic trends with recent releases from modern sources
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Life expectancy at birth (years)

This dataset combines Gapminders long historic trends with recent releases from modern sources. The specific sources may vary from time to time as better estimates are published.


  • Life expectancy at birth (years)

Gapminder has compiled the data you see in this dataset from several sources, such as official international statistics, various historical sources and our own estimates.

The details on how the compilation was done and the sources for each observation can be found at Gapminder's documentation page.

Definition of indicator

The average number of years a newborn child would live if current mortality patterns were to stay the same.

Unit of measurement



current version: 20161012

Revision history

2016 October 12: Added the latest IHME data from 1990 to 2015, plus extended them with a simple linear extrapolation to 2016, as I don't expect any better data during next year. /Ola

2015 October: Used new IHME data, whenever available 1970 to 2013 and extended to 2015

2015 January: Used IHME data, whenever available from 1990-2013

2014-11-20: Version 8: included WPP estimates for 2013. Added temporary guesstimates for Taiwan & Greenland for 2013 (these two guestimates are not inlcuded in the gapdata file).

2014-05-07: Version 7: added guesstimates for disasters etc. Changed what years to include.

2013-07-23: Version 6: updated to 2012 with World Population prospects, some backward revisions, added guesstimates for Haiti earthquake, Somali famine & Syrian war.

2011-04-11: Version 4: updated with the world population prospect 2010, with some additional backward revisions.

Data sources summary

Last Uploaded: 2016-10-12

The data in this dataset was combined from hundreds of sources, in four steps:

Here's a short summary of the Gapminder Historic Life expectancy main components:

  • Data before 1970, are collected of estimates of average life expectancy from different sources. The main sources used:
    1. Human Mortality Database,
    2. World Population Prospects: The 2010 Revision / United Nations Population Division, with projections
    3. Publications and files by history prof. James C Riley
    4. Human Lifetable Database,
    5. Miscellaneous sources, see full documentation
  • where no estimates are available form any source, before 1950, we constructed, simple model for showing levels and changes in historical life expectancy, mainly based on Infant Mortality Rate data.

Specific information about this indicator

Authors: Mattias Lindgren, Klara Johansson, Ola Rosling