Global life expectancy goes up, but rich-poor divide remains

By on 16/05/2014
Margaret Chan of the World Health Organisation said there is a significant rich-poor divide in life expectancy throughout the world. UN Photo by Paulo Filgueiras

People born in 2012 can expect to live an average six years longer than people born in 1990, according to a new report from the UN World Health Organisation (WHO).

Even so, there remains a significant contrast between the fate of people born in wealthy countries and those born in poorer nations, where mortality rates are considerably higher.

The increase in life expectancy is largely thanks to the successful treatment and prevention of diseases such as HIV, tuberculosis and malaria, as well as improved nutrition. In addition, tobacco use is down throughout the world, and people suffer from fewer non-communicable illnesses like heart disease and strokes.

As a result, girls born in 2012 will live to an average age of 73, while boys born at the same time will live to an average age of 68.

Despite the fact that many low-income countries have made the best progress in improving life expectancy through better healthcare, WHO’s director-general Margaret Chan stated: “People in high-income countries continue to have a much better chance of living longer than people in low-income countries.”

For example, a girl born in 2012 in a high-income country can expect to live around 19 years longer than one born in a low-income country.

What is more, life expectancy is still less than 55 years for residents in nine sub-Saharan African countries: Angola, Central African Republic, Chad, Ivory Coast, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Lesotho, Mozambique, Nigeria and Sierra Leone.


About Kevin Sorkin

Pendragon International Media publish, a community of senior government officials around the world. Global Government Forum is an important international network focusing on impartial, government news, analysis and best practice. The content addresses the real issues facing senior leaders in public service policy and administration today and aims to support them in developing public services for the future. Our aim is to help all organisations engage with this important community by improving understanding and strengthening relationships. I am the founder of the Civil Service Awards and Civil Service Live, which are now established industry leading brands and extremely important events for government. I also launched and published Civil Service World, and Civil Service World Research and Information bringing together the civil service community to enable communication, sharing of best practice, inspire and motivate the civil service community. Over the years I have established relationships with the most senior officials in government and the private sector and have built a very strong and positive reputation across the industry.

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