Health Expectancy of the Elderly Population in Sri Lanka: Application of Sullivan Method

Weeratunga, M.K.


Life expectancy at birth has continuously increased in many countries over the last century. A similar trend is seen among the elderly population in Sri Lanka. In such a background, researchers have shown interest in studying the health of elders as they progress in age. However, good health of the elderly population in Sri Lanka is an emerging issue. The objective of this study is to estimate the healthy life expectancy of the elderly population in Sri Lanka. This study is based on the healthy life expectancy measurement proposed in the Sullivan Method. This study used both primary and secondary data. The information on ill health used in applying the Sullivan method comes from the 2012 Census and healthy life expectancy is calculated using the life tables constructed by the Department of Census and Statistics for the period 2011-2013 and 2000-2002. To supplement the analysis, a sample survey of 300 elderly people was carried out in the Gampaha district. The findings of the sample survey supplemented the analysis performed with the secondary data. This study found that both elderly men and women have spent a considerable time with disability because of the deterioration in health. When the difference between the total life expectancy and the healthy life expectancy was analyzed, the study found that, on average, men were in a disabled state for 0.8 years compared to 0.94 years for women in 2001. This difference has drastically increased in 2012, with 5.24 and 7.32 years for men and women, respectively. These results show that the likelihood of women facing disability has increased over the 11 years considered in the study. The study further reveals that the lack of financial security makes elderly people, especially elderly women, more vulnerable to injury and ill health.

Keywords: elderly population, healthy ageing, healthy life expectancy, life expectancy