Expectation of life refers to the average life of the inhabitants of a nation. In India, expectation of life before the start of planning was very low. But since the inception of planning in India, it has started to improve steadily. For instance, in 1921 expectation life was 19.4 years which in 1931 increased to 26.9 years.
In 1951, it was 33.0 years, 52 years in 1971 and 59 years in 1991. In 2001, expectation life was recorded to be 63.9 years as seen in table 5. However, Prof. A.K. Dasgupta is of the view that in the process of economic development, growth rate of population is not as much as determining factor as the expectation of life. In a country like India low rate of saving is also due to low expectation of life.
The above cited table provides evident that in India life expectancy is very low, but there has been a regular improvement. Since the independence, the life expectancy has increased by about 30 years on an average. The main reasons of improvements in life expectancy are stated below:
(i) Better maternity services and improved child care, the infant mortality has declined. The better conditions of hygiene and cleanliness have also improved the life span.
(ii) Life expectancy of females has improved due to check on early marriages and better maternity facilities.
(iii) The attitude towards female population has changed. The girls are not a neglected class now-a-days in provision of nutritious foods.
(iv) The improvement in literacy and general education has motivated the people to lead a healthy and better life.
(v) The discovery of effective medicines and various measures have improved the life expectancy.