Sunday, March 12, 2023

Living Longer: A Century of Progress in Life Expectancy

Life expectancy has increased rapidly since the Age of Enlightenment. In a pre-modern, poor world, life expectancy was around 30 years in all regions of the world. In the early 19th century, life expectancy started to increase in early industrialized countries while it stayed low in the rest of the world1.

Since then life expectancy doubled in all world regions. In Oceania life expectancy increased from 35 years before the health transition to 79 years in 2019. In Europe from 34 to 79 years. In Americas from 35 to 77 years. In Asia from 27.5 to 73.6 and Africa from 26 years to 63 years.

According to data from the United Nations, the global average life expectancy for 2019 was 72.6 years. This is higher than in any country back in 1950. In 1950, Norway had the best health with a life expectancy of 72.3 years1.

The World Health Organization confirms this trend for longevity: lifespans are getting longer. Globally, life expectancy has increased by more than 6 years between 2000 and 2019 – from 66.8 years in 2000 to 73.4 years in 20192.

Excluding child mortality, during the period between the 12th and19th centuries, average life expectancy was approximately 55 years. If a person survived childhood, they had about a 50% chance of living between50-55 years.

Sources: 1 Life Expectancy - Our World in Data 2 Life tables - World Health Organization 3 Life expectancy - Wikipedia

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