Healthy life expectancy (HLE) is becoming an important indicator of population health. While actuarial estimates of HLE are frequently studied, there is scarcity of research on the subjective expectations of people about their HLE. The objective of this study is to compare actuarial and subjective HLE (sHLE) estimates in the ≥50-year-old Hungarian general population. Furthermore, we assessed subjective life expectancy (sLE) and explored determinants of the individual variance of sHLE and sLE.
We conducted a cross-sectional online survey in 2019. Subjective health expectations were measured at 60, 70, 80 and 90 years of age via the Global Activity Limitation Indicator (GALI). Point-estimates of sLE and background variables were also recorded. sHLE was estimated from GALI and sLE responses. Actuarial estimates of life expectancy (LE) and HLE for 2019 were provided by the Central Statistical Office of Hungary.
Five hundred and four respondents (female 51.6%) were included. Mean (±SD) age was 63 (±7.5) years. Median LE (81.5 years, 95%CI 81.1–81.7) and sLE (82 years, 95%CI 80–85) were similar (p = 0.142), while median sHLE (66.8 years, 95%CI 65.5–68.3) was lower than HLE (72.7 years, 95%CI 82.4–82.9) by 5.9 years (p<0.001). Despite the greater median actuarial LE of women compared to men (p<0.001), we found no gender differences between the median sLE (p = 0.930), HLE (p = 0.417) and sHLE (p = 0.403) values. With less apparent gender differences among the predictors when compared to sLE, sHLE was mainly determined by self-perceived health, age and place of residence, while self-perceived health, close relatives’ longevity, social conditions, happiness and perceived lifestyle influenced sLE.
Along subjective life expectancy, subjective healthy life expectancy may be a feasible indicator and provide insights to individuals’ subjective expectations underlying the demographic estimates of the healthy life expectancy of the population.