This documentation is for the life tables through 2020. For the most recent life tables, refer to the current Expected Survival Life Tables page.

General population life tables are used to calculate expected survival, representing survival for a comparable group of individuals free of cancer used in calculations of relative survival and crude probability of death statistics. These life tables are available and distributed with the SEER*Stat software. They represent the expected probabilities of surviving the interval conditional on being alive at the beginning of the interval and are generated from the U.S. mortality data.

We have two sets of life tables: SES/Geography/Race Annual, available for years 1992+, and the U.S. Annual, available from 1970 with less detail by race.

SES/Geography/Race Annual Life Tables

  • Recommended for survival calculations by geography or by race/ethnicity groups other than All Races, White, and Black.
  • Available by sex, individual years 1992 through 2020, individual ages from 0-99 years, by mutually exclusive race/ethnicity groups (Non-Hispanic [NH] White, NH Black, NH American Indian/Alaskan Native, NH Asian and Pacific Islander, and Hispanics), and by varied geography.
  • SEER*Stat survival calculations use the All Races life tables for Non-Hispanic with Unknown race and the 2020 life tables for diagnoses and follow-up beyond 2020.

U.S. Annual Life Tables

  • Available by sex, individual years 1970 through 2020, individual ages from 0-99 years, and three races (White, Black, and Other [American Indian/Alaska Native, Asian/Pacific Islander]).
  • SEER*Stat survival calculations use the All Races life tables for Unknown race and the 2020 life tables for diagnoses and follow-up beyond 2020.

Important information about calculating expected survival using these life tables:

  • Neither set of life tables is recommended when producing statistics for Asian or Pacific Islander sub-groups.
  • Expected survival probability for the maximum age (99) will be used to represent expected survival for any age greater than the maximum age.

Life Table Methods

SES/Geography/Race Annual Life Tables

  • The general methods are described in Mariotto et al., 2018External Web Site Policy
  • Starting with the 1992-2018 tables, calendar year was removed from the model and tables were calculated separately for each year. Through 2018, for each year, 3 years of mortality data were used (e.g. 1991-1993 for 1992,…, 2017-2019 for 2018 table). To provide more up-to-date life tables and to capture the effect of COVID-19, we began using a single year of mortality to estimate new life tables (i.e. 2019 for 2019 and 2020 for 2020). We no longer update all of the tables; we only add new years to the previously calculated life tables.

U.S. Annual Life Tables

1970-2000 Life Tables

  • For Whites, Blacks, and All Races, we used published U.S. Decennial Life Tables from the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) for 1970, 1980, 1990, and 2000. Expected survival for individual years are interpolated from the decennial tables (years 1971-1979 from the 1970 and 1980 life tables, 1981-1989 from the 1980 and 1990 life tables, and 1991-1999 from the 1990 and 2000 tables). All Races Combined is used for calculation of expected survival for people with Unknown or Other Unspecified 1991+ race.
  • For Other (American Indian/Alaska Native, Asian/Pacific Islander) race, we generated the 1970, 1980, 1990, and 2000 tables using standard methods for life table calculations with some modifications to incorporate information previously available on live births and 0-year old mortality counts broken down into <1 Day, 1-6 Days, 7-27 Days, and 28-364 Days. Similar interpolations were used to estimate life tables between the decennial years.

2001-2020 Life Tables

  • For 2001-2017, we used published NCHS U.S. Annual Life Tables for White, Black, and All Races Combined (used for Other Unspecified Race 1990+ and Unknown race). Starting with the 2018 life tables, NCHS stopped providing tables for White or Black. For 2018 and later, we have included the Non-Hispanic White and Non-Hispanic Black tables for White and Black respectively. All Races Combined was provided by NCHS.
  • We generated the tables for the Other (American Indian/Alaska Native, Asian/Pacific Islander) races category. Mortality rates for 2001-2018 with 3-year overlapping groups for each year (e.g., 2017-2019 for 2018) and single year for 2019 and 2020 were used to generate the expected survival for Other Races for 2001-2020.
  • The 2009-2018 Other Race life tables were updated using revised vintage population estimates.