Average life expectancy will rise beyond 90 years in many countries by 2030 and policymakers need to make more efforts to plan for it, according to a large international study, published in the Lancet Medical Journal on Wednesday.
South Koreans are likely to have the highest life expectancy in the world. The researchers predicted that a girl born in South Korea in 2030 should expect to live 90.8 years, while a boy could reach 84.1 years.
However, the USA will lag far behind, partly because of lack of universal health care in the country and also due to factors such as relatively high child and maternal mortality rates, and high rates of homicides and obesity, the study said.
Led by Imperial College, London scientists in collaboration with the World Health Organization (WHO), found that among high-income countries, the United States is likely to have the lowest life expectancy in 2030, with men and women expecting to live 79.5 and 83.3 years respectively – similar to middle-income countries like Croatia and Mexico.
India was not included in the study.
“The fact that we will continue to live longer means we need to think about strengthening the health and social care systems to support an ageing population with multiple health needs,” Majid Ezzati, the lead researcher and a professor at Imperial College London’s school of public health, told The Telegraph, UK.
In Europe, French women and Swiss men were predicted to have the highest life expectancy, averaging 88.6 years for French women and nearly 84 years for Swiss men.
“Many people used to believe that 90 years is the upper limit for life expectancy, but this research suggests we will break the 90-year-barrier,” Prof Ezzati said.
The study covered 35 developed and emerging countries, including the United States, Canada, Britain, Germany, Australia, Poland, Mexico and the Czech Republic.
South Korea’s much greater average life expectancy would be due to several factors including good childhood nutrition, low blood pressure, low levels of smoking and good access to healthcare, new medical knowledge and technologies, the researchers said.