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Years of Potential Life Lost


Updated June 06, 2007

Definition: Is a measure of premature mortality. Years of Potential Life Lost (YPLL) subtracts the age a person dies from their life expectancy. If a man in the United States died in a car accident at age 23, the YPLL would be 55 because the average life expectancy for a man in the United States is 78. This means 55 years of potential life were lost in the car accident. If a 65-year-old man died of heart disease, the YPLL would be 13.

YPLL is used by public health officials and researchers to evaluate the impact of programs on increasing the life expectancy of the population. YPLL has been criticized because it does not account for the amount of disability or suffering involved with certain health conditions. That is measured using Disability Adjusted Life Years (DALYs).

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