life expectancy

A study evaluating future mortality and life expectancy in 35 industrialized nations predicts life spans close to 90 years of age by 2030, and suggests the need for careful planning of health, social, and financial resources.


In developed nations around the globe, average life expectancies have been steadily increasing for decades, slowing only temporarily during periods of war, famine, or disease outbreak.  According to a study recently published in The Lancet, this trend is likely to continue.

The study derived its predictions using 21 forecasting models to extrapolate from existing data about deaths and population from 35 industrialized countries in Asia and the Pacific, North America, central and western Europe, and Latin American. Results from the 21 models were combined to provide the final predictions about likely life expectancies by the year 2030. Data covered the years from 1985 and 2010 in order to give researchers a more reliable basis to assess long-term trends.

The results suggest that life expectancy is likely to continue to increase in all 35 countries assessed, with a 65% probability of increase for women and 85% probability for men.  Other predictions for the year 2030 include:

  • South Korean women are predicted to have the highest worldwide life expectancy at birth – at least 86.7 years, with a 57% probability that it will be over 90 years.
  • Women in France, Spain, and Japan are expected to have the next highest longevity after South Korea.
  • The probability that men in South Korea, Australia and Switzerland will have a life expectancy at birth that is greater than 80 years is 95%, and the probability is 27% that it will exceed 85 years.
  • The USA, Japan, Sweden, Greece, Macedonia, and Serbia are among the lowest life expectancies projected among the counties studied.
  • Although historically, women have tended to enjoy greater average life expectancies than men, and will continue to do so, the gap is predicted to shrink in most countries.
  • However, Mexico bucks this trend, with women likely to see greater gains in life expectancy than men. In Chile, France, and Greece, the increases in life expectancy are likely to be similar between the sexes.
  • While life expectancy statistics can be affected by reduced infant mortality, in the case of the nations surveyed in this study, more than half of the projected gains in women’s life expectancy are attributable to enhanced longevity above 65 years of age.

In light of these predictions, authors of the study recommend that governments undertake careful planning to ensure maintenance of health and social systems, as well as pensions, which will be capable of supporting this level of longevity.


Written By: Linda Jensen

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