Saturday, February 25, 2017

Why South Koreans now live longer than Americans

Julia Belluz · Tuesday, February 21, 2017, 7:36 pm

And will soon live longer still.

South Korea is set to become the world leader in life expectancy by the end of the next decade. And the United States? Well, it’s poised to lag behind other wealthy countries when it comes to progress in longevity.

In a new study, published in The Lancet, researchers predict that average life expectancy will reach beyond 90 years for South Korean women by 2030. Men there will also see big gains.

A handful of other wealthy countries will get closer to becoming centenarians too, but these improvements won’t be spread evenly. Americans, in particular, won’t be doing nearly as well against its economic peers.

It’s yet another example of the importance of equitable access to health care — something South Korea and many other developed countries have managed to provide their citizens while the US continues to falter.

[Chart showing that fewer women in the US will live as long as women in other highly developed countries]

For the study, researchers at the Imperial College London, the World Health Organization, Northumbria University and the University of Washington, developed a new model for predicting future life expectancy in 35 countries using 21 forecasting projections. Most impressively, they found that in South Korea, life expectancy in women could jump from 84 in 2010 to 91 by 2030. In France, Japan, and Spain, female life expectancy is expected to hit at least 88 or 89 years, up from around 85.

Men in South Korea as well as Australia and Switzerland are also expected to lead the world on life expectancy, living to about 84 by 2030, with Canada, Spain, New Zealand, the Netherlands following close behind.

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