Life expectancy rises in poor nations, UN reports

Credit: Rostislav Kralik/public domain

Life expectancy in the globe's poorest countries has risen by an average of nine years over the past two decades, thanks to major improvements in infant health, the United Nations said Thursday.

In its annual statistics, the UN's World Health Organization (WHO) said that six of the had even managed to raise life expectancy to over 10 years between 1990 and 2012.

The top achiever was Liberia, where average lifespans increased by a full 20 years, from 42 to 62.

Next in line were Ethiopia (from 45 to 64 years), Maldives (58 to 77), Cambodia (54 to 72), East Timor (50 to 66) and Rwanda (48 to 65).

"An important reason why global life expectancy has improved so much is that fewer children are dying before their fifth birthday," WHO chief Margaret Chan said in a statement.

Globally, rose by six years during the same period.

Based on global averages, a girl who was born in 2012 can expect to live to around 73 years, and a boy to the age of 68, the WHO said.

"But there is still a major rich-poor divide: people in high-income countries continue to have a much better chance of living longer than people in low-income countries," Chan said.

A boy born in 2012 in a high-income country can expect to live to the age of around 76—16 years longer than a boy born in a low-income country.

For girls, the difference is even wider, with those in high-income countries likely to live to the age of 82 and those in poor nations to 63.

Female life expectancy in all the top 10 countries of the globe is 84 years or more, the WHO said.

Women in Japan enjoy the world's best life expectancy, at 87 years, followed by Spain, Switzerland and Singapore on 85.1 years each.

Life expectancy among men, meanwhile, is 80 years or more in nine countries, with the longest in Iceland (80.2), Switzerland (80.7) and Australia (80.5).

"In , much of the gain in life expectancy is due to success in tackling noncommunicable diseases," said Ties Boerma, head of the WHO statistics division.

"Fewer men and women are dying before they get to their 60th birthday from heart disease and stroke. Richer countries have become better at monitoring and managing for example," he added.

Declining tobacco use is also a key factor in helping people live longer in several countries, the WHO said.

At the other end of the scale, for both men and women is still less than 55 in nine sub-Saharan African countries: Angola, Central African Republic, Chad, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ivory Coast, Lesotho, Mozambique, Nigeria and Sierra Leone.

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Iraq, South Africa buck rising life expectancy

May 13, 2011

(AP) -- Average life expectancies are increasing steadily in most of the world, but men in Iraq and women in South Africa are bucking that trend with notable drops in their time on Earth.

Americans living longer than ever

Jan 06, 2014

(HealthDay)—Americans are living longer than ever and their life expectancy is increasing every year, federal health officials reported Monday.

Japanese women retake top spot for life expectancy

Jul 25, 2013

Japan's women retook their place as the world's longest-lived last year, edging out Hong Kongers as their life expectancy bounced back from the dip caused by the 2011 tsunami, officials said Thursday.

Past smoking rates shorten US lifespans: study

Jan 25, 2011

High smoking rates in the past, combined with widespread obesity, continue to chip away at US life expectancy compared to other wealthy nations, a study released Tuesday said.

Recommended for you

Even without kids, couples eat frequent family meals

24 minutes ago

Couples and other adult family members living without minors in the house are just as likely as adults living with young children or adolescents to eat family meals at home on most days of the week, new research suggests.

Health law enrollment now 7.3M

13 hours ago

The Obama administration says 7.3 million people have signed up for subsidized private health insurance under the health care law—down from 8 million reported earlier this year.

ASTRO issues second list of 'Choosing wisely' guidelines

14 hours ago

(HealthDay)—The American Society for Radiation Oncology (ASTRO) has released a second list of five radiation oncology-specific treatments that should be discussed before being prescribed, as part of the ...

Bill Gates says progress made on new super-thin condom

15 hours ago

Billionaire philanthropist Bill Gates said Thursday progress is being made on developing a "next-generation" ultra-thin, skin-like condom that could offer better sexual pleasure, help population control and ...

User comments