These countries may soon have the highest life expectancies

Henrietta Strickland
October 20, 2018

Life expectancy in 2040 is set to rise at least a little in all nations but the rankings will change dramatically, with Spain taking the top spot while China and the United States trade places, researchers say.

The countries where life expectancy will be highest and lowest by 2040 have today been named by scientists - with New Zealand ranked as the 17th highest country in the world.

Researchers estimate the average lifespan in Singapore will go up from 83.3 years in 2016 to 85.4 years by 2040, placing it third out of 195 countries.

Meanwhile life expectancy for Palestinians is expected to drop the most out of any country in the next twenty two years, sinking from 114th in 2016 (with 71.9) to 152nd place (with 72.2) in 2040. This graph of life expectancy changes to 69 years for males. The country's average life expectancy in 2016 was 76.3 years, giving it a world ranking of 68. When it comes to life expectancy, in this scenario it will not increase significantly in the US (79.8 years - only 1.1 years up from the 2016 estimate), but some countries, such as Syria (78.6 years, 10.4 rise) and Equatorial Guinea (75.9 years, 10.3 rise) will see a huge rise of the numbers.

The US will be overtaken by China, which rises 29 places to 39th in the table. They will include lower respiratory infections, ischaemic heart disease - a disease characterised by reduced blood supply to the heart - Alzheimer's disease, lung cancer and chronic kidney disease.

For their latest work, the researchers relied on the 2016 GBD report, which contains data on more than 200 different causes of deaths from 1990 to 2016.

Lead author Dr Kyle Foreman, from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) at the University of Washington, US, said: "The future of the world's health is not pre-ordained, and there is a wide range of plausible trajectories". Air pollution ranked sixth.

African countries continue to have the worst rates of premature death. Also negative trends dominated in the Central African Republic (58.4 years), Zimbabwe (61,3), Somalia (63,6) and Swaziland (65,1). Based on these different scenarios, there are three scenarios, a "most-likely" forecast, a "better-health" scenario and a "worse-health" scenario.

"But nations could make faster progress by helping people tackle the major risks, especially smoking and poor diet", he added. Specifically, 87 countries will experience a decline, and 57 will see an increase of one year or more.

The model also factored in 79 "drivers" of health, such as smoking, body mass index, clean water and good sanitation conditions, along with other variables, such as fertility measurements, income and education. They then used information on how each of these independent drivers affects specific causes of death to develop forecasts of mortality.

Furthermore, while NCDs are projected to rise in many low-income countries, communicable, maternal, neonatal, and nutritional diseases are likely to remain among the leading causes of early death, thereby creating a "double burden" of disease. The report states that soon non-communicable illnesses and long term diseases such as diabetes, lung cancer, kidney disease, tobacco related ailments, obesity, high blood pressure etc. would be the major killers.

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