International

Life expectancy to exceed 90 years

Study shows significant increase in lifespan, with South Korea top of league table and other countries not far behind

Life expectancy will soon exceed 90 years for the first time, scientists have predicted, overturning all the assumptions about human longevity that prevailed at the beginning of the 20th century.

Women born in South Korea in 2030 are forecast to have a life expectancy of 90, a study has found. But other developed countries are not far behind, raising serious questions about the health and social care that will be needed by large numbers of the population living through their 80s.

The study in the Lancet medical journal shows a significant rise in life expectancy in most of the 35 developed countries studied. A notable exception is the US, where a combination of obesity, deaths of mothers and babies at birth, and lack of equal access to healthcare is predicted to cause life expectancy to rise more slowly than in most comparable countries.

The big winners are South Korea, some western European countries, and some emerging economies. France is second in the league table for women — as it was in 2010 — at 88.6 years, and Japan is third on 88.4 years after decades with the longest life expectancy in the world. Men born in 2030 are predicted to enjoy life expectancy of 84.1 years in South Korea and 84 years in Australia and Switzerland.

South Korea’s league-topping performance is due to improvements in its economy and education, say the authors. Deaths among children and adults from infectious diseases have dropped and nutrition has improved, which has also led to South Koreans growing taller. Obesity, which causes chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart problems and cancer, has not become a huge issue. Other countries with high projected life expectancy such as Australia, Canada and New Zealand have high-quality healthcare to prevent and treat cancer and heart disease, few infant deaths, and road traffic injury rates, says the paper.

“As recently as the turn of the century, many researchers believed that life expectancy would never surpass 90 years,” said the lead author Prof Majid Ezzati, of Imperial College London. “Our predictions of increasing lifespans highlight our public health and healthcare successes.

“However, it is important that policies to support the growing older population are in place. In particular, we will need to both strengthen our health and social care systems and to establish alternative models of care, such as technology assisted home care.” Guardian News & Media Ltd, 2017

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Printable version | Feb 27, 2020 1:48:58 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/international/life-expectancy-to-exceed-90-years/article17348532.ece

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