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Global Life Expectancy Increased by 6 Years Since 1990

The largest gains in life expectancy have come in developing countries.

Healthy Living

Healthy Living.Image credit: U.S. Census Bureau, Public Information Office (PIO).

According to statistics released by the World Health Organization in May this year, the average girl born in 2012 can have a life expectancy up to the age of 72 and that for the average boy can reach the age of 68. It is reported that people all over the world are now living longer, so that the average life expectancy is six years longer than that in 1990. More surprisingly, the life expectancy in low income countries has highly increased with an average of nine years.

The main reason for this interesting figure is that the chance of dying before the age of five for the children in such low income countries have been sharply lowered partly because of recent achievement made in addressing the childhood diseases.

As Margaret Chan, WHO Director-General said, there was still a major rich-poor divide, because people in high-income countries continue to have a much better opportunity of living longer than those in low-income countries.

Based on the WHO statistics, it is demonstrated that a boy born in 2012 in a high-income country can have a life expectancy of 76 years, which is 16 years longer than a boy born in a low-income country. As for girls, such gap is even wider, which can get to 19 years, with the life expectancy of 82 years in high-income countries while that figure is 63 years in low-income countries.

WHO data

Data credit: WHO.

Here are some interesting statistics from the WHO report.

  • The top six countries with increased life expectancy include Liberia, which saw a 20-year gain (from 42 years in 1990 to 62 years in 2012) and Ethiopia (from 45 to 64 years), Maldives (58 to 77 years), Cambodia (54 to 72 years), Timor-Leste (50 to 66 years), and Rwanda (48 to 65 years).
  • In nine sub-Saharan African countries, life expectancy for both men and women is shorter than 55 years. They are Angola, Central African Republic, Chad, Côte d’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Lesotho, Mozambique, Nigeria, and Sierra Leone.
  • The primary causes of death in rich countries are attributed noncommunicable diseases such as cancer and stroke as well as injuries. As for poor countries, infectious diseases are still a main cause leading to death.
  • Of the total world’s population, nearly 6.7 percent (44 million) are children under the age of five, who were overweight or obese in 2012.

Source: WHO

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