Average Life Expectancy Increases Noted Around the World

HealthDay News — Average life expectancy among people worldwide has risen by more than six years since 1990, and healthy life expectancy has climbed by more than five years, according to a new report published online in The Lancet.

The analysis of data from 188 countries indicates that life expectancy for both sexes increased from 65.3 years in 1990 to 71.5 years in 2013, while healthy life expectancy rose from 56.9 to 62.3 years. In 2013, Japan had the highest healthy life expectancy (73.4 years), while Lesotho, in southern Africa, had the lowest (42 years). 

Other countries with the highest healthy life expectancies were Andorra, Canada, Cyprus, France, Iceland, Israel, Italy, Singapore, and South Korea. Other countries with the lowest life expectancies were Afghanistan, Chad, Central African Republic, Guinea-Bissau, Mozambique, South Sudan, Swaziland, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.

The rise in overall life expectancy is due to significant declines in illness and death caused by HIV/AIDS and malaria, the researchers said, along with major advances in combating infectious diseases, nutritional deficiencies, and maternal-fetal issues. 

In 2013, the leading causes of health loss worldwide were ischemic heart disease, lower respiratory infections, cerebrovascular disease, low back and neck pain, road injuries, diarrhea, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, premature birth complications, HIV/AIDS, and malaria. Health loss from HIV/AIDS rose 341.5% between 1990 and 2013, but fell by 23.9% since 2005 due to an international focus on fighting the disease.

“The world has made great progress in health, but now the challenge is to invest in finding more effective ways of preventing or treating the major causes of illness and disability,” study author Theo Vos, PhD, a professor at the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington in Seattle, said in a journal news release.


1. Murray C, et al. Lancet. 2015; doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/S0140-6736(15)61340-X.