The World Health Organization finds that Iceland and Japan top the charts in regard to life expectancy. While people all over the world are living longer, the average age of a man from Iceland is 81.2, and in Japan, the average age for a woman is 87.
According to the WHO's World Health Statistics 2014, released Thursday, a girl who was born in 2012 can expect to make it into her golden years and live around 73 years, and for a boy, 68 is the average. These are based on global averages, which is different in other countries. In 1990, the average global life expectancy was six years less than this current data.
“An important reason why global life expectancy has improved so much is that fewer children are dying before their fifth birthday,” said Dr. Margaret Chan, WHO director-general. “But there is still a major rich-poor divide: people in high-income countries continue to have a much better chance of living longer than people in low-income countries.”
The disparity between rich and poor countries contributes to the life expectancy rate. A boy born in 2012 in a high-income country is expected to live 16 years longer than a boy born in a low-income country — 76 versus 60 years. There is even a wider gap for girls; in a high-income country, 82 years is the average and 63 in low-income countries — that’s a 19-year difference.
“In high-income countries, much of the gain in life expectancy is due to success in tackling noncommunicable diseases,” said Dr. Ties Boerma, director of the Department of Health Statistics and Information Systems at WHO. “Fewer men and women are dying before they get to their 60th birthday from heart disease and stroke. Richer countries have become better at monitoring and managing high blood pressure for example.”
No matter where you go in the world, women live longer than men. Some of this has to do with the differences in physical makeup, but some scientists speculate that lifestyle habits contribute greatly.
“Overall, about 70% of the variation around average life expectancy — [just over 80 for women and just over 75 for men in the U.S.] — is probably attributable to environmental factors — your behaviors and your exposures. Probably only 30% is due to genetics,” Tom Perls, founder of the New England Centenarian Study at Boston University and creator of the website LivingTo100.com, told Time magazine.
This is good news for countries worldwide; if there are stronger efforts in disease prevention, health, and education, these numbers could increase globally.