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February 23, 2017

Average life expectancy is about to crack 90 years

Researchers have determined that the average human life expectancy should crack the 90-year mark within the next two decades, according to a new report in the Lancet medical journal.

The study evaluated lifespans in 35 industrialized countries and determined each country would see longer life expectancies by 2030, with the difference between men and women would beginning to narrow in most countries.

The scientists noted that their conclusions presented big policy issues for pensions and elderly care systems.

old man on a bench

How far can we push human life expetency? (Credit: Huy Phan/Unsplash)

Some countries faring better than others

For the United States, the study found boys born in 2030 should expect to have lifespans around 79.5 years, similar to projections for boys born in the Czech Republic. US girls born in 2030 will have an average life expectancy of 83.3, comparable to girls born in Croatia and Mexico. Those projections are a small increase from the 2010 figures: 76.5 years for boys, and 81.2 years for girls.

South Korea topped the study’s list of countries with a projected lifespan of 90.6 years for girls born in 2030, which is 6.6 years longer than the 2010 average. France had the second-highest current average and second-highest highest projection for women’s life expectancy, with the latter at 88.6 years. Japan’s life expectancy for women born in 2030 came in third, at 88.4 years.

The study, which was funded by the United Kingdom’s Medical Research Council and the Environmental Protection Agency, noted that the US is the sole country in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development without universal healthcare coverage.

“Not only does the US have high and rising health inequalities, but also life expectancy has stagnated or even declined in some population subgroups,” the study authors wrote.

Lead author Majid Ezzati, of Imperial College London, told The Guardian that the study’s calculations are astounding considering that not too long ago; many scientists said humans were not built to live past 90.

“Our predictions of increasing lifespans highlight our public health and healthcare successes,” he said. “However, it is important that policies to support the growing older population are in place. In particular, we will need to both strengthen our health and social care systems and to establish alternative models of care, such as technology assisted home care.”

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