Longer Lives: At Home and Abroad
For years, life expectancy in the U.S. has been among the longest in the world – a natural byproduct of the fact that the U.S. is wealthier than most other nations. Indeed, a recent report from the medical journal The Lancet projects that by 2030, women in the U.S. will live an average of 83.3 years (up from 81.2 today), and men will live an average of 79.5 years (up from 76.5 today).
The report analyzed data on mortality and longevity patterns from 35 industrialized nations (both high-income and emerging nations). The projected increases in American longevity are definitely encouraging; however, perhaps the most interesting aspect of this study is seeing how the rest of the world is catching and even surpassing American seniors in terms of life expectancy.
South Korean women are projected to live to an average age of 90 years in 2030, and women in Spain, Portugal, Slovenia and Switzerland will see average lifespans above 87. South Korea, the Netherlands, Australia, Denmark and Switzerland will all see their male citizens survive for more than 80 years on average. In Mexico and the Czech Republic, the lifespans of both men and women will be at levels comparable to the U.S. by 2030.
Why is the U.S. not progressing as fast as other countries? The researchers who generated this report have pointed to the high obesity rates in the U.S. The average American consumes a diet that is less healthy than people from the countries that top the list of global life expectancy.
The U.S. healthcare system also plays a role in longevity outcomes. Although the U.S. spends more of its total GDP on healthcare than any other nation, the quality of care received tends to be top-heavy – meaning that richer Americans can afford much better care than their less-wealthy counterparts.