Life Expectancies Continue to Increase: Unless You Live in the US

As I write in my text, we typically assume that life expectancy (from birth) will continue to increase owing to improved lifestyles and better access to health care. A new study (Kontis et al. 2017) largely confirms that we can expect to see improving life expectancy through 2030, at least for those in the developed world. In fact, women in South Korea are projected to have a life expectancy of 91 years by 2030, while South Korean men would be expected to live to just over 84 years. Women consistently lead men in life expectancy in all developed countries considered in the study.

The picture isn’t as good if you live in the US, which already has one of the lowest life expectancies amongst developed countries (81 years for women and 76 years for men, based on data from the PRB’s 2016 World Population Data Sheet (prb.org)).  Although the study does show an increase in the number of years American women and men live by 2030 (83 years for women and 80 years for men), US life expectancy is projected to fall further behind its peer countries by having the lowest life expectancy of rich countries by 2030, meaning its life expectancy will be more similar to Mexico’s (for women) and Croatia (for men).

Why the lag? The US has the highest homicide rate along with the highest maternal and child death rates and does not have universal health care – the only high income country without it. Ultimately, the repeal of Obama Care would have further implications on the health and life expectancy of Americans, with millions potentially no longer able to afford health insurance.

Further Reading:

Vasilis Kontis, James E Bennett, Colin D Mathers, Guangquan Li, Kyle Foreman, Majid Ezzati. 2017. Future life expectancy in 35 industrialised countries: projections with a Bayesian model ensemble. The Lancet. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/S0140-6736(16)32381-9

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