Longevity

101 Facts About Ageing #24: Life Expectancy Around The World

Posted on 6 August 2021

As Daniel Patrick Moynihan, an American sociologist, politician, and diplomat once said: “Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not his own facts”. And we wholeheartedly agree. A shared set of facts is the first step to building a better world with longevity for all. In that spirit, we are creating a series that covers 101 indisputable facts about ageing, health and longevity.

As of 2020, global average life expectancy is 70 years for males and 75 years for females. The regions of the globe with the highest average life expectancies are Europe, North America and Oceania (75-77 for males, 81-82 for females), while Africa has the lowest average life expectancy (62 for males, 65 for females). Outliers include Japan, South Korea, Chile and Hong Kong, which have significantly higher life expectancies than their respective regions. The country with the highest number of centenarians (people who are 100 years old or more) per capita is Japan, with around 6 centenarians per 10 000 people.

In general, a country’s life expectancy increases with national income, but some countries punch above or below their weight, achieving higher or lower life expectancy than would be predicted by their wealth. For example, Ethiopia’s life expectancy between 2014 and 2018 was about 2 years higher than might be expected, while that of the United States was about 3 years lower than it’s income would predict. Many possible factors have been suggested to contribute to such discrepancies including levels of income inequality, access to healthcare, the existence of social safety nets, quality of education and political participation.


References

Average life expectancy at birth in 2020, by continent and gender: https://www.statista.com/statistics/270861/life-expectancy-by-continent/

Why do some countries do better or worse in life expectancy relative to income? An analysis of Brazil, Ethiopia, and the United States of America: https://doi.org/10.1186/s12939-020-01315-z

Differences in life expectancy across the world: https://ourworldindata.org/life-expectancy

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