This dataset provides Period Life Expectancy at birth per country and year. The overall aim of the dataset is to cover the entire world for the period 1500-2000. The current version (version 2) was build as part of the OECD "How was life" project. The dataset has nearly global coverage for the post 1950 period, while pre 1950 the coverage decreases the more historic the time period. Depending on sources, the data are annual estimates, 5 yearly or decadel estimates


Version 2: Richard Zijdeman - Version 1: Filipa Ribeiro da Silva

Production date

Version 2: 2014-07-26 (ISO date format, YYYY-MM-DD) - Version 1: 03-09-2012


Period Life Expectancy at birth for the total population


Demography, life expectancy, total population, world countries, mortality

Time period


Geographical coverage

Entire World

Methodologies used for data collection and processing

Bibliographical research, research of published and Online Databases, and cross-analysis of various datasets

Period of collection

September 2013 - April 2014

Data collectors

Richard Zijdeman

i. Central statistical agencies ii. Historical reconstructions iii. Estimates iv. Conjectures

General references

The sources used are:

* UN World Population Project: http://esa.un.org/wpp/

* Human Mortality Database: http://www.mortality.org

* GAPMINDER: http://www.gapminder.org

* OECD: http://stats.oecd.org

* Montevideo-Oxford Latin America Economic History Database: http://www.lac.ox.ac.uk/moxlad-database

* ONS: http://www.ons.gov.uk/ons/datasets-and-tables/index.html

* Australian Bureau of Statistics: http://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/abs@.nsf/web+pages/statistics?opendocument#from-banner=LN

* Kannisto, V., Nieminen, M. & Turpeinen, O. (1999). Finnish Life Tables since 1751, Demographic Research, 1(1), DOI: 10.4054/DemRes.1999.1.1

For specifics concerning (selections of) the sources, see the R-file below, with which the dataset was created.


Anguilla[No Data]

Antigua and Barbuda1500 (5)-2013 (21)

Aruba[No Data]

Bahamas1500 (5)-2013 (23)

Barbados1500 (5)-2016 (28)

Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba[No Data]

British Virgin Islands[No Data]

Cayman Islands[No Data]

Cuba1500 (8)-2016 (35)

Curaçao[No Data]

Dominica1500 (5)-2016 (21)

Dominican Republic1500 (6)-2018 (38)

Grenada1500 (5)-2013 (21)

Guadeloupe[No Data]

Haiti1500 (6)-2018 (36)

Jamaica1500 (6)-2018 (35)

Martinique[No Data]

Montserrat[No Data]

In 2010, the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO) awarded a subsidy to the Clio Infra project, of which Jan Luiten van Zanden was the main applicant and which is hosted by the International Institute of Social History (IISH). Clio Infra has set up a number of interconnected databases containing worldwide data on social, economic, and institutional indicators for the past five centuries, with special attention to the past 200 years. These indicators allow research into long-term development of worldwide economic growth and inequality.

Global inequality is one of the key problems of the contemporary world. Some countries have (recently) become wealthy, other countries have remained poor. New theoretical developments in economics - such as new institutional economics, new economic geography, and new growth theory - and the rise of global economic and social history require such processes to be studied on a worldwide scale. Clio Infra provides datasets for the most important indicators. Economic and social historians from around the world have been working together in thematic collaboratories, in order to collect and share their knowledge concerning the relevant indicators of economic performance and its causes. The collected data have been standardized, harmonized, and stored for future use. New indicators to study inequality have been developed. The datasets are accessible through the Clio Infra portal which also offers possibilities for visualization of the data. Clio Infra offers the opportunity to greatly enhance our understanding of the origins, causes and character of the process of global inequality.