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Life expectancy projected to rise in 35 countries, with smaller gains in U.S.

Written by Diane Archer

Life expectancy is projected to rise in 35 countries, with smaller gains in the U.S., according to a recent report in The Lancet. Researchers believe that the chance of people born in 2030 living longer than they do today is 65% for women and 85% for men. As a result, countries need to plan for greater health and social services needs.

Some high-income countries, including the U.S., fare worse than others in the researchers’ model. Life expectancy in the U.S., Japan, Sweden, Greece, Macedonia, and Serbia is not expected to increase as much as in other countries. Life expectancy at birth in the U.S. is lower today than in most other high-income countries. The researchers project that U.S. life expectancy will worsen, so that in 2030, U.S. life expectancy will be on a par with the Czech Republic for men, and Croatia and Mexico for women.

Of all the high-income countries studied, the U.S. has the highest child and maternal mortality, homicide rate, and body-mass index. The U.S. population has also seen an end to its height increases, which is associated with longer life.

The researchers suggest that lower life expectancy in the U.S.–and even declining life expectancy for some populations–stems in part from our lack of universal health coverage. More than any other high-income country, the U.S. has the highest unmet health care needs because health care is unaffordable to so many people. They conclude that “the poor recent and projected U.S. performance is at least partly due to high and inequitable mortality from chronic diseases and violence, and insufficient and inequitable health care.”

Japan has had the highest life expectancy for women for decades. At 65, Japanese women are expected to live on average more than 24 additional years (89), followed by French women, who at 65 on average live an additional 23 years (88).

The researchers expect South Korean women born in 2030 to live to 86.7. And, they believe that there’s a better than 50-50 chance that South Korean women will live to be 90 or older.  The researchers project life expectancy for women in France, Spain, and Japan to be close to that of South Korea.

The researchers believe with near certainty that men born in South Korea, Australia, and Switzerland in 2030 will live past 80, and there’s better than a one in four chance that these men will live past 85.

Researchers further say that it is more than likely that women born in 2030 will live on average to 90 or older.

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1 Comment

  • …the article hits it on the head, the lack of universal healthcare here in the US. The sad part of this is we spend more on the Pentagon and the Military Industrial Congressional Complex than we do to take care of our own citizens.

    That huge portion of our budget also includes maintaining forces in bases all over the world, often to the benefit of nations who have universal healthcare. Not having to spend a larger portion of their GDP on defence (because we are doing it for them) allows these countries to allocate tax revenue to social matters like low cost/free education, housing, infrastructure, and of course, universal or single payer healthcare. In effect, through funding our vast worldwide military presence, we are indirectly supporting these programmes in other nations while denying our own citizens the same services at home because we are told “can’t afford it”.

    Time for this nation to stop playing “World’s Policeman” and start taking care of its own.

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