World Longevity Making Big Gains as More Children
Survive, Health Improves
People in richer countries and women continue to live
28, 2014 – Longevity is increasing around the world and a major reason
is that more children, particularly in the poorest countries, are surviving
to see a fifth birthday. People everywhere are living longer, but the
World Health Statistics 2014 published this month by WHO (World
Health Organization) shows that people still live longer in richer
countries and women still outlive men.
.Based on global averages, a girl who was born in
2012 can expect to live to around 73 years, and a boy to the age of 68.
This is six years longer than the average global life expectancy for a
child born in 1990.
WHO’s annual statistics report shows that
low-income countries have made the greatest progress, with an average
increase in life expectancy by 9 years from 1990 to 2012.
The top six countries where life expectancy
increased the most were Liberia which saw a 20-year increase (from 42
years in 1990 to 62 years in 2012) followed by Ethiopia (from 45 to 64
years), Maldives (58 to 77 years), Cambodia (54 to 72 years),
Timor-Leste (50 to 66 years) and Rwanda (48 to 65 years).
“An important reason why global life expectancy has
improved so much is that fewer children are dying before their fifth
birthday,” says 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
The risk of a child dying before their fifth
birthday is 8 times higher in the WHO African Region than a child in the
WHO European Region.
Gaps between rich and poor countries
A boy born in 2012 in a high-income country can
expect to live to the age of around 76 – 16 years longer than a boy born
in a low-income country (age 60). For girls, the difference is even
wider; a gap of 19 years separates life expectancy in high-income (82
years) and low-income countries (63 years).
they live in the world, women live longer than men. The gap between male
and female life expectancy is greater in high-income countries where
women live around six years longer than men. In low-income countries,
the difference is around three years.
Women in Japan have the longest life expectancy in
the world at 87 years, followed by Spain, Switzerland and Singapore.
Female life expectancy in all the top 10 countries was 84 years or
longer. Life expectancy among men is 80 years or more in nine countries,
with the longest male life expectancy in Iceland, Switzerland and
“In high-income countries, much of the gain in life
expectancy is due to success in tackling noncommunicable diseases,” says
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.”
Declining tobacco use is also a key factor in
helping people live longer in several countries.
At the other end of the scale, life expectancy for
both men and women is still less than 55 years in nine sub-Saharan
African countries – Angola, Central African Republic, Chad, Côte
d’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Lesotho, Mozambique, Nigeria
and Sierra Leone.
expectancy at birth among men and women in 2012 in the 10 top-ranked
* Countries with a population below 250 000 are
omitted due to uncertainty in life-expectancy estimates.
Some other key facts from "World Health
The top three causes of
years of life lost due to premature death are coronary heart disease,
lower respiratory infections (such as pneumonia) and stroke.
Worldwide, a major shift is
occurring in the causes and ages of death. In 22 countries (all in
Africa), 70% or more of years of life lost (due to premature deaths) are
still caused by infectious diseases and related conditions. Meanwhile,
in 47 countries (mostly high-income), noncommunicable diseases and
injuries cause more than 90% of years of life lost. More than 100
countries are transitioning rapidly towards a greater proportion of
deaths from noncommunicable diseases and injuries.
Around 44 million (6.7%) of
the world’s children aged less than five years were overweight or obese
in 2012. Ten million of these children were in the WHO African Region
where levels of child obesity have increased rapidly.
Most deaths among
under-fives occur among children born prematurely (17.3%); pneumonia is
responsible for the second highest number of deaths (15.2%).
Between 1995 and 2012, 56
million people were successfully treated for tuberculosis and 22 million
lives were saved. In 2012, an estimated 450 000 people worldwide
developed multi-drug resistant tuberculosis.
Only one-third of all
deaths worldwide are recorded in civil registries along with
About WHO statistics
Published every year since 2005 by WHO, World
Health Statistics is the definitive source of information on the health
of the world’s people. It contains data from 194 countries on a range of
mortality, disease and health system indicators including life
expectancy, illnesses and deaths from key diseases, health services and
treatments, financial investment in health, as well as risk factors and
behaviors that affect health.
World Health Statistics 2014 contains WHO’s annual
compilation of health-related data for its 194 Member States, and
includes a summary of the progress made towards achieving the
health-related Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and associated
This year, it also includes highlight summaries on
the ongoing commitment to end preventable maternal deaths; on the need
to act now to combat rising levels of childhood obesity; on recent
trends in both life expectancy and premature deaths; and on the crucial
role of civil registration and vital statistics systems in national and