Life expectancy may hit 90 years by 2030: study

Life expectancy may hit 90 years by 2030: study
Average life expectancy is set to increase in many countries by 2030 - and will exceed 90 years in South Korea, according to a new study published in the Lancet journal today. The study, led by scientists from Imperial College London (ICL) in the UK and World Health Organisation (WHO), analysed long-term data on mortality and longevity trends to predict how life expectancy will change in 35 industrialised countries by 2030.

Nations in the study included both high-income countries, such as the US, Canada, UK, Germany, Australia, and emerging economies such as Poland, Mexico and the Czech Republic. The study showed all nations in the study can expect to see an increase in life expectancy by 2030. The results also found that South Koreans may have the highest life expectancy in the world in 2030.

The team calculated life expectancy at birth, and predicted a baby girl born in South Korea in 2030 will expect to live 90.8 years. Life expectancy at birth for South Korean men will be 84.1 years. The researchers also calculated how long a 65-year-old person may expect to live in 2030. The results showed that the average 65-year-old woman in South Korea in 2030 may live an additional 27.5 years.

Scientists once thought an average life expectancy of over 90 was impossible, said Professor Majid Ezzati, lead researcher from the ICL. "We repeatedly hear that improvements in human longevity are about to come to an end. 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," said Ezzati. "I don't believe we're anywhere near the upper limit of life expectancy - if there even is one," he said.

Ezzati said that South Korea's high life expectancy may be due to a number of factors including good nutrition in childhood, low blood pressure, low levels of smoking, good access to healthcare and uptake of new medical knowledge and technologies.  French women and Swiss men were predicted to have the highest life expectancies at birth in Europe in 2030, with an average life expectancy of 88.6 years for French women and nearly 84 years for Swiss men.

The results also revealed that the US is likely to have the lowest life expectancy at birth in 2030 among high-income countries. The nation's average life expectancy at birth of men and women in 2030 (79.5 years and 83.3 years), will be similar to that of middle-income countries like Croatia and Mexico. Researchers said that this may be due to a number of factors including a lack of universal healthcare, as well as the highest child and maternal mortality rate, homicide rate and obesity among high-income countries.

The UK's average life expectancy at birth for women will be 85.3 years in 2030. This places them at 21st in the table of 35 countries. The average life expectancy of a UK man meanwhile will be 82.5 years in 2030. This places them at 14th in the table of 35 countries. The team also predicted a 65-year-old UK man in 2030 could expect to live an additional 20.9 years (12th in the table of countries), while a 65-year-old woman in the UK could expect to live an additional 22.7 years, up (22nd in the table of countries).

The research also suggested the gap in life expectancy between women and men is closing. "Men traditionally had unhealthier lifestyles, and so shorter life expectancies. They smoked and drank more, and had more road traffic accidents and homicides," said Ezzati. "However as lifestyles become more similar between men and women, so does their longevity," he said.
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