TABLE 2.1

Life and Work Expectancy at Birth for Selected Years by Sex (in years)

Expectancy

1900a

1940b

1950b

Men

 

 

 

Life expectancy

48.2

61.2

65.5

Work expectancy

32.1

38.1

41.5

Nonwork expectancy

16.1

23.1

24.0

Women

 

 

 

Life expectancy

50.7

65.7

71.0

Work expectancy

6.3

12.1

15.1

Nonwork expectancy

44.4

53.6

55.9

Women's worklife as a percentage of men's worklife

19.6

31.6

36.3

a Data for 1900 are for white persons in death registration states.

b Figures adjusted to remove 14- and 15-year-olds from the labor force to be consistent with 1970 (1900 is not comparable).

c Figures for 1970 and 1980 are based on the increment-decrement methodology. All other figures reflect ordinary life table methodology. See text for explanation.

provides the data.2 The life expectancies of both men and women increased substantially over the course of the century from about 50 years at the turn of the century to well over 70 years at the end of the century. These increases amount to 20 additional years of life for men and about 30 additional years for women born in 1980.

For men born at the turn of the century, nearly all of their nonwork lives occurred prior to entry into the labor force, with approximately 32 years of worklife and 16 years of nonwork. By 1980, the last year for which methodologically sound estimates exist, men had added about seven years to their worklife expectancy, a small decline from the peak in 1950, after which retire-

2  

An earlier version of this argument and the data were presented in Spenner 1988).



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