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Life expectancy

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1 year ago

Life expectancy is the key metric for assessing population health. Broader than the narrow metric of the infant and child mortality, which focus solely at mortality at a young age, life expectancy captures the mortality along the entire life course. It tells us the average age of death in a population.

Estimates suggest that in a pre-modern, poor world, life expectancy was around 30 years in all regions of the world.

Life expectancy has increased rapidly since the Age of Enlightenment. In the early 19th century, life expectancy started to increase in the early industrialized countries while it stayed low in the rest of the world. This led to a very high inequality in how health was distributed across the world. Good health in the rich countries and persistently bad health in those countries that remained poor. Over the last decades this global inequality decreased. No country in the world has a lower life expectancy than the countries with the highest life expectancy in 1800. Many countries that not long ago were suffering from bad health are catching up rapidly.

Since 1900 the global average life expectancy has more than doubled and is now above 70 years. The inequality of life expectancy is still very large across and within countries. in 2019 the country with the lowest life expectancy is the Central African Republic with 53 years, in Japan life expectancy is 30 years longer.

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