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Health Rep. 2008 Mar;19(1):7-19.

Life expectancy in the Inuit-inhabited areas of Canada, 1989 to 2003.

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Health Information and Research Division at Statistics Canada, Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0T6.



Because of a lack of Aboriginal identifiers on death registrations, standard data sources and methods cannot be used to estimate basic health indicators for Inuit in Canada. Instead, a geographic-based approach was used to estimate life expectancy for the entire population of Inuit-inhabited areas.


The data are from the Canadian Mortality Database and the Census of Canada.


Areas where at least 33% of residents were Inuit were identified, based on census results. Vital statistics death records for 1989 through 2003 and census population counts for 1991, 1996 and 2001 were used to compute abridged life tables for the Inuit-inhabited areas in each of the three 5-year periods centered around those census years.


In 1991, life expectancy at birth in the Inuit-inhabited areas was about 68 years, which was 10 years lower than for Canada overall. From 1991 to 2001, life expectancy in the Inuit-inhabited areas did not increase, although it rose by about two years for Canada as a whole. As a result, the gap widened to more than 12 years. Life expectancy in the Inuit-inhabited areas was generally highest in the Inuvialuit region (Northwest Territories) and Nunavut (Territory), followed by Nunatsiavut (Labrador) and Nunavik (Quebec). While these results are not specific to the Inuit population, such geographic-based methods can be used with any administrative datasets that include postal codes or municipal-level locality codes.

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