Men living to age 78 but women can expect to reach 83
We're living longer and men are closing the mortality gap on women, according to new figures. The gender gap now stands at 4.4 years, compared with the 4.8 years recorded in 2006.
However, life expectancy in the lower and middle socio-economic groups is increasing.
According to CSO figures, in the period 2010-2012, life expectancy at birth was 78.3 years for males and 82.7 years for females.
This has increased significantly for both men and women since the first official life table was compiled in 1926.
Over the 85-year period to 2011, male life expectancy increased by 20.9 years (36.4pc), while female life expectancy increased by 24.8 years (42.8pc).
In 2011, the highest life expectancy at birth for males among EU member states was reported in Sweden (79.9 years). For females, France reported the highest life expectancy of 85.7 years.
Experts say there is a combination of reasons why this generation is living longer than their parents.
Leading economic sociologist, Professor Richard Layte, said: "Life expectancy improved for many different reasons, some to do with lifestyle (the fall in smoking rates since the 1970s has been particularly important) others to do with improving environments and regulatory factors like falling road fatalities and occupational deaths.
"The falling away of infectious disease in the second half of the 20th century was a major change and marked Ireland's 'epidemiological transition'."
He told the Irish Independent: "Life expectancy has been steadily increasing in Ireland for much of the last century although the rate of improvement was lower when compared to our European neighbours.
"The reasons for this were the smaller falls in deaths, cardiovascular disease among manual and farming groups as well as absolute increases in death rates from external causes (accidents, injuries, suicide and poisoning), liver disease (cirrhosis) and cancers among women related to smoking," he said.
He said liver disease and cancers appear to be linked to higher consumption of alcohol.
Mortality rates for professionals, managers and the self-employed up to the age of 65 had decreased by 27pc between the 1990s and 2000s, compared with a 12pc reduction among their working class counterparts, he added.