Mortality rates fell by 3.8% between 2018 and 2019, marking the largest annual fall since 2011.
The Continuous Mortality Investigation (CMI) said mortality rates in 2019 were at the lowest level ever seen in England and Wales.
As a result, male and female cohort life expectancies at age 65 are around one month higher than a year ago, although they are still lower than in all earlier versions of the CMI Model.
Cobus Daneel, chair of the CMI Mortality Projections Committee, said it is important to stress that mortality rates are volatile and, in isolation, the improvement seen in 2019 should not necessarily be interpreted as a return to the high level of improvements seen in previous decades.
Daneel added that not everyone experiences the same level of mortality improvements.
“In recent years, people living in less deprived areas of England and Wales have experienced higher mortality improvements than those in more deprived areas,” he said.
Mercer said it is too early to tell whether the change is the start of a new trend or attributable to short-term volatility, particularly when the potential impact of the current coronavirus on the UK population is not yet known.
“Lower mortality rates in 2019 are raising questions about whether the slowdown in mortality improvements in recent years will continue or whether improvements could start to accelerate again,” stated Alastair Walker, UK head of longevity analytics at Mercer.